Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Break Starts!

Spring-breakers, mostly from Canada, enjoy themselves at the beach in the resort city of Cancun, Mexico 3/4/09. The U.S. State Department and universities in the U.S. are warning college students headed for Mexico for some spring-break partying of a surge in drug-related murder and mayhem south of the border (AP/Israel Leal).

It's been a tough season for spring break destinations. With students and parents tightening their belts in the face of a major recession, the annual tradition of letting off steam -- ideally on an exotic beach, with access to plenty of cheap beer -- is suffering.

This spring break season -- typically, March 16 to April 5 -- flights from the U.S. to the Caribbean have dropped as much as 20%, according to data compiled for TIME by the online travel agency Expedia.

Meanwhile, safety concerns over Mexico's increasingly violent drug cartels may be helping keep students away from its beaches in droves; travel to the spring-break Mecca of Cancun is down 22% over last year. (See pictures of the history of Mardi Gras.)

But that doesn't mean spring break is canceled. More>>

PHOTO: In this Monday March 17, 2003 file photo, students from the United Sates on spring break sunbathe at Cancun beach, Mexico (AP/Jose Luis Magana, File).

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