ST. PAUL, Minn. - The drug wars in Mexico do not seem to have dampened the annual Minnesota appetite for an escape to the Sun. Casa Travel President Carlos Lopez of Burnsville says travel is up slightly, comparing 2009 to 2010, in spite of the slow economy.
"Last year, world wide, 22 million people visited Mexico as tourists. Out of those 22 million, 17.5 million were from the United States. Not one that I'm aware of was affected by any violence that was directed by drug cartels or anything of that nature," said Lopez.
This, while the rising tone of violence in the battles between the cartels and the police has led to dozens of murders in recent weeks, some reportedly just 3 miles from the Spring Break beaches of tourist Mecca Acapulco. The U.S. State Department has put Mexico on a list of countries with travel warnings for Americans. Still, sun-starved college students are flocking south of the border for the annual fun and sun frolic.
"They brought it up this morning in my music class because I said that I was going to Mexico and there was a little bit of a roar, because I read the articles and there's a lot of violence going on down there," said University of Saint Thomas senior Taylor Zumbusch. "So, it may be a risk, but it is close to the border (her destination). I am driving down with my sister. (We're) going to have a good time."
Spring Break for the University of Saint Thomas does not begin until March 29th. Macalester College and the University of Minnesota are already on "break" this week.
College students are not the only group seeking warmth after a cold winter. Anita Oliva Wolerink of Bloomington is heading south soon with no worries about the drug troubles. "We go to a resort area and we are pretty wise to traveling in Mexico. So, we get out of the airport and get in our transportation to the resort and then we pretty much stick in a certain vicinity and watch what we are doing," she said.
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