Crime & Justice

Violence scaring tourists away from Mexico’s Acapulco

Acapulco, Mexico, Aug 11 (EFE).- The gangland violence wracking this resort city on Mexico’s Pacific coast has led to more than 7,500 cancelled reservations this summer, according to area hoteliers.

Despite efforts to improve public safety, Acapulco, where more than 80 percent of residents depend on tourism for their livelihood, has witnessed a series of shocking incidents in recent weeks.

A prominent local businessman was slain on a busy highway, the body of a murdered young woman was found in a garbage bag, and drug traffickers set a dozen vehicles on fire during a rampage.

“For us, this season has been different. We expected a little higher occupancy, we expect to reach the occupancy levels we had in 2019,” Hotel and Tourism Chamber president Alejandro Dominguez told EFE.

Acapulco received more than 1.84 million visitors in the second quarter of 2019, the last year before Covid-19.

While tourism has been on the increase in the last two years, it has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels and the headlines about violence in the port city are not helping.

“We’re already talking about roughly 7,500 room nights that we are losing, that were canceled. And, if we multiply that by persons, we’re talking about more than 10,000 people who didn’t come due to that situation,” Dominguez said.

But the picture is not all gloomy.

Domestic arrivals at Acapulco’s airport are up 27 percent, while the volume of international arrivals has increased 7 percent, and hotel occupancy was 73.6 percent last weekend, 14 percentage points higher than a year ago.

“The tangible evidence is that today we are at 70 percent hotel occupancy on a mid-week day and we hope that it rebounds this weekend,” municipal Tourism Secretary David Abarca Rodriguez said.

He said that Acapulco is working hard to bring tourists back to the city.

“And it’s what we are doing, creating strategies to present everything we have. We are re-inventing with what we have,” the official said.

An additional 500 members of Mexico’s National Guard have been added to the Joint Task Force created to make Acapulco safer.

“The tourist comes to Acapulco and he or she feels safe. Things don’t happen to tourists,” according to Jesus Zamora Cervantes of the Tourism Consultative Council.

“The truth is that the tourist is fine, they are well cared for,” he said. “The problem is the route here and we have to guarantee that their route and their return are secure.”

Zamora was alluding to a spate of incidents on the Highway of the Sun, which links Mexico City to Acapulco.

Businesses and the municipal government are projecting revenues of more than 5 billion pesos (nearly $295 million) in the current vacation season. EFE acp/dr

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