#MexicoToday: Peter Greenberg, credited as “America’s most recognized, honored and respected front-line travel news journalist,” hosts a special series on PBS called The Royal Tour in which he travels a country guided by its head of state. On September 22nd (September 23rd in Mexico), PBS will air The Royal Tour: Mexico – Greenberg’s grandest royal tour to date.
With Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderón, as his guide, Greenberg explored Mexico from top to bottom, undertaking such adventures as whale watching in Baja California, rappelling 110 stories down the Cave of Swallows in San Luis Potosi, zip-lining through the jungles of Puerto Vallarta, and exploring several of the Yucatan’s cenotes and underground rivers. In addition to the adventure, Greenberg was able to sit down with the President and discuss some pressing issues such as the United State’s perception of safety in Mexico.
While in Oaxaca this past June for the Mexico Today kick-off event, I had the chance to discuss the filming of The Royal Tour: Mexico with Jaime Diaz, the government official who was integral in making the event happen. Jaime explained to me that the previous Royal Tours (in places like Jordan, New Zealand, Peru, and Jamaica) were filmed in about seven days but because Mexico is such a vast country, Greenberg and PBS wanted to reserve the President for two weeks – something the Mexican government strongly opposed. According to Jaime, President Calderón overrode his advisors and agreed to the filming, seeing The Royal Tour as a huge opportunity to open the eyes of American viewers to the beauty of his country and to the wealth of meaningful travel experiences offeren in Mexico.
Judging from the trailer, it seems President Caldrón made the right call as The Royal Tour: Mexico looks fantastic. Set your TiVos now because, trust us, Mexico is going to blow you away!
Peter Greenberg, a highly regarded authority in the international travel industry, posted an article titled Is it Safe to Travel to Mexico Now? on his blog a few weeks ago in which he and Robert Reid, U.S. travel editor for Lonely Planet, discussed the current state of Mexico in regards to safety and tourism.
Both Greenberg and Reid travel to Mexico frequently and their conversation offers some great insight into the matter (you should definitely read the entire article), but I just want to point out some of the stand-out quotes I came across.
- Robert Reid: “You need to consider that Mexico is about the size of Western Europe. There’s an area that’s bigger than Britain and Ireland that is not on the travel warnings.”
- Robert Reid: “The Washington Post had an article last year that the homicide rate in our nation’s capital is four times greater than Mexico City.”
- Peter Greenberg: “Look at Cozumel. It is probably the most popular cruise ship port in the world. And yet anytime somebody hiccups the cruise ships say we’re pulling out of Mazatlan or we’re pulling out of Cozumel. Guess what happens a week later? They’re back. It’s so fickle and capricious. It’s not based on real facts. It’s based on fear.”
- Robert Reid: “During the swine flu crisis a couple of years ago, some cruise ships stopped going to places like Puerto Vallarta, where there were no reported cases of the swine flu. Instead, the ships went to places like San Francisco where there were reported cases of swine flu. It is worth listening closely to reports.”
- Peter Greenberg: “I’ll call a spade a spade here, Mexico has been seen in an almost racist way by Americans for so many years. They imagine dusty border towns, guys wearing sombreros and doing shoot ‘em ups. They see it how it was portrayed in the movies. If you couple that perception with the drug cartels or with the swine flu or with select crime reports, suddenly everybody starts running for the border.”
- Robert Reid: “I’m in this business because of Mexico. I think it is an asset to be close to such a diverse, wonderful and friendly country. I’m sad that more people don’t take advantage of it.”
- Peter Greenberg: “Isn’t it ironic that we’re talking about crime and murder in Mexico and I’ve spent so much of the year enjoying the ocean, the beaches and the beautiful sunsets in Mexico?”
President Calderón gives Peter Greenberg a Royal Tour of Mexico
Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderón, rung in the New Year by declaring 2011 to be the year of Mexican Tourism. Just a few weeks later, he embarked on a tour of his country with CBS Travel Correspondent, Peter Greenberg, to showcase the safety and rich travel opportunities in Mexico.
Greenberg, one of the most influential figures in international travel, has traveled several countries with their heads of state and has dubbed the trips a “Royal Tour.” Previous Royal Tours have taken Greenberg through Jordan, New Zealand, Peru and Jamaica – each resulting in a significant increase in tourism to the country.
Details and reports from the tour have yet to be released, however, along for much of the tour was Arnie Weissmann of Travel Weekly who has reported in his article titled President Felip Calderón, Tour Guide that he was impressed by “how fortunate the U.S. is to have a country as interesting, as rich in unique attractions and with such warm people so nearby to us [in the US].” Weissmann went on to say, “I was struck by how all that I saw was so completely disassociated from the media reports of sporadic violence that keeps some Americans from going there,” illustrating the importance of fact checking and contextualizing the sensationalized reports that have been flooding out of the US Media over the past few years.
Between the obvious commitment of President Calderón, the dedicated work of Minister of Tourism, Gloria Guevara, and the encouragement of trusted figures in travel like Peter Greenberg, Mexico seems ready to live up to Calderón’s declaration and take its seat atop the list of international travel destinations for 2011.
Peter Greenberg is one of the most trusted and influential figures in international travel. For decades, Greenberg has reported, edited, and produced for major media outlets such as: NBC’s Today, CNBC, MSNBC, ABC’s Good Morning America, America Online, and Men’s Health magazine. Greenberg runs a website, PeterGreenberg.com, and a radio show called Peter Greenberg Worldwide through which he speaks to international travel enthusiasts around the world.
Greenberg also runs a column on the AARP‘s website called Ask Peter Greenberg, on which he recently fielded a comment sent to him titled: “Is Mexico Safe for Travel?” Greenberg subtitled his response “Don’t believe the hype, but do be aware of your surroundings” and went on talk about how, yes, there is violence in Mexico but that the majority of the reported violence is focused in a few border areas, far removed from popular tourist destinations like Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Maya (largely echoing our thoughts on the matter found in our Journey Mexico Statement on Violence and Safety).
Below are some of the stand-out quotes from Greenberg’s Response:
- “The fact is tourism to Mexico is up 20 per cent this year, and that includes 5 million Americans!”
- “Danger is usually limited to border cities such as Tijuana, Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Juarez”
- “Take a look at a map, and you’ll see how far the resort towns are from the border”
- “Resorts are fully aware of the negative perception of Mexico as of late, and are doing their part to tighten security and make guests feel safe.”
- “That doesn’t mean you should leave your common sense at the door.”
- “Mexico continues to be a cost-friendly destination for American travelers, and there are great experiences to be had down there. Be smart, don’t be governed by fear, and you’ll have a good time.”
For the full article, visit “Is Mexico Safe for Travel.”