Mexico is a popular tourist destination, with 45 million international visitors in 2019. However, the country also has a high crime rate, with nine of the world's 10 most dangerous cities located in Mexico. Violence is becoming increasingly common in tourist areas, with recent incidents in Acapulco and Cancun. One of the victims is Mexico’s tourism industry.
The Mexican government deployed more than 8,000 soldiers during the recent Easter holidays to major tourist destinations to address this issue. It is part of a larger trend of militarization in Mexico’s tourism, which includes creating a para-state company managed by the Army that will manage most of the funds allocated to tourism, rail, airport, and cultural projects. Soon, this company will manage 80% of the funds from the fee each tourist entering Mexico pays.
The militarization of Mexico also includes the Army's involvement in construction projects such as the new Felipe Ángeles Airport and the Maya Train. This has led to criticism from the National Tourism Business Council. The council disagrees with the disappearance of the National Fund for Tourism Promotion and the handing over of the care and maintenance of tourist destinations and cultural heritage to municipalities.
Despite the concerns, a 2021 survey revealed that 40% of Mexicans would agree with a government led by the military due to insecurity, growing corruption, and sustained impoverishment. The militarization trend worries some, who fear that the military may co-govern with the current administration and gain privileges that could be difficult to take away in the future.
Organized crime is a major issue in tourist destinations such as Acapulco and Cancun, with extortion, kidnappings, and drug dealing being common activities.