Attacks on Mexico's nightclubs are on the rise, suggesting criminal groups are becoming increasingly willing to use public violence, and highlighting the collateral damage this dynamic has had on the country's tourist centers.
The number of deaths from attacks on nightclubs in Mexico has more than doubled in the last two and a half years, jumping from 30 in 2015 to 70 during the first six months of 2017, putting this year on track to surpass the 73 deaths that were recorded in all of 2016, El Universal reported.
Extortion, revenge and ongoing territorial disputes among the country's cartels have often left Mexico's nightclubs in the middle of these confrontations, according to El Universal.
Mexico's embattled state of Guerrero -- specifically, the municipalities of Acapulco and Chilpancingo -- has seen the most nightclub attacks; 18 incidents accounted for 26 deaths between 2015 and 2017.
(Graphic courtesy of El Universal)
However, Veracruz state was just as deadly, recording 26 deaths in eight attacks.
Mexico's tourist epicenters have also been caught in the violence. In Quintana Roo, for example, eight attacks were recorded between 2015 and 2017, with a total of 15 victims. The deadliest incident was an attack earlier this year on one of Playa del Carmen's most well-known nightclubs, the Blue Parrot, which left five dead and 20 injured.
In total, nightclub attacks in Mexico caused 173 deaths between 2015 and 2017.
InSight Crime Analysis
Mexico's nightclubs are at the center of the country's tourism industry, which last year attracted 35 million visitors, generated $19.6 billion in revenue and had several locations named by the New York Times as top travel destinations. But as instances of wanton public violence increase, Mexico's renowned tourist destinations may start to suffer the impacts.
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The beach resort town of Acapulco on Mexico's Pacific coast stands as a stark example of the devastating effect criminal violence can have on tourism-based economies. The once-idyllic coastal town is now engulfed by violence as criminal groups compete to control it. Now dubbed "Guerrero's Iraq," violence spiraled out of control in 2016 and prompted desperate local business leaders to call for a peace pact among citizens, the government and organized crime leaders. Since then, more than 30 businesses that were once flooded with tourists are now closed and abandoned, or waiting to be sold as tourists have disappeared.
But relatively tranquil areas largely devoid of the violence may also be in jeopardy. For example, in Mexico City -- which the New York Times named the top travel destination in the world in 2016 -- a deadly clash recently left eight dead. Further, similar incidents could impact the city's tourism industry, one of the country's most popular, which could have detrimental effects on this important economic driver.