As the H1N1 Swine Flu enters its second full week of being the world’s #1 news story, Mexico – ground zero of the whole mess – continues to be hit the hardest. Mexico City is still in full lockdown mode in an attempt to contain the virus, with nearly all commerce stopped. Despite not reporting large numbers of H1N1 cases, the tourist and epxat hotspots on Mexico’s coastlines are reporting incredible losses as gringos stay away: Rodrigo de la Peña, Cancun’s hotel association president, says that reservations are down 30% and still dropping quickly. Here’s a rundown of how Mexico’s top destinations are being affected.
99.9% of the time its good to be the favorite beach destination for a city of 25 million, but alas the coastal resort town is experienceing that .1% right now. As wealthy residents of the capital enjoy a mini vacation, and with much of Mexico City closed, many are flocking to ‘Pulco for some fun and sun….but in the eyes of the town’s residents, they are potentially bringing the dreaded flu along with the sunscreen and beach towels. And they aren’t happy: Police report that as many as four cars with Mexico City plates have been stoned by Acapulco residents as they entered the town. So much for a warm welcome…
Despite Covadonga Gomez, the town’s hotel and tourism cheif, publicly pleading with capital city residents to stay away from Acapulco, a steady stream of vacationers made the five hour trip from Mexico City last weekend. And while Apaculco officials reiterated the fact that every restaurant, bar, and disco were closed, many establishments deemed the almighty dollar, er, peso, was too much to ignore. High profile places like Señor Frog’s and Sibu were open for business and reportedly quite crowded.
It’s without surprise that Cancun, which relies so heavily on foreign tourists and expats, is getting economically kicked all over the place by the flu outbreak. As soon as news of the flu began, most cruise lines cancelled their stops in Cancun and the rest of the Maya Riviera, taking away the lucrative invasions of cruisegoers. Hotels are reported to be half empty with cancellations coming in every hour and outbound flights are jam packed with tourists trying to flee. Additionally, many European and U.S. airlines have cancelled or cut back the number of flights to Cancun since the confirmation that several New York students have the H1N1 virus and also just returned from the resort town (no official link between the two has been found, however).
Mónica Roberts, operations chief for Real Resorts in Cancun, reports only 20% of the rooms are full at a time when 80-90% should be, according to the Washington Post.
Following local leaders’ insistence that not one case of H1N1 has been confirmed in Cancun or the state of Quintana Roo, tourists and expats in the area report that there seems to be a hush-hush attitude held by hotel staff, restaurant waiters, and just about everyone else with vested interest in the tourist industry. Without foreigners, Cancun will suffer terribly, and for now it seems like it is just doing enough to keep its head above water…
San Miguel Allende
San MA, and the state of Guanajuato in whole, has not confirmed one case of H1N1 and the population is reported to be quite healthy. Despite this, fear and panic have taken over many of the citizens of this popular expat and retiree destination. Like Mexico City, many of the public sectors have shut down and, unlike in the coastal resort towns, green facemasks have become the new fashion craze. As with the rest of the country, schools are closed for the foreseeable future, but for the time being there is no H1N1 in the area.
Cabo San Lucas and the Baja Peninsula
The expat and tourist mega-destination that is the southern Baja Peninsula, including Cabo San Lucas, has been confirmed “Swine flu free” by the Mexican government, however, this did not stop Rosarito officials from cancelling Cinco de Mayo celebrations or several cruise line operators to cancel stops in Baja. Tourist numbers are reported to be slightly down in the last week, but again, there have been no confirmed cases.
Have more information about the H1N1 flu in Mexico? Are you an expat, retiree, or tourist somewhere in this great country? We want to hear your story! Let us know whats going on in your community.
photo provided by Current News Stories at http://www.flickr.com/photos/currentnews/3489545692/