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Hoteliers: Mexico Is Back in Business

May 21, 2010 By: Joe Pike

Although the negative press pales in comparison to the triple whammy Mexico tourism was dealt last year, the country’s tourism industry again suffered a public relations mess to welcome it into the new year.

In 2009, Mexico had to deal with the lethal trio of a suffering U.S. economy, the H1N1 scare and a score of gang-related incidents along the U.S.-bordering Mexico towns.

“We got hit with the perfect storm last year,” says Mandy Chomat , vice president of slaes and marketing for Karisma Hotels. “But we eventually came back.”

And this year?

The March abduction and murder of two U.S. citizens in Chihuahua, Mexico prompted The Department of State to issue a travel warning to the country. And when the gang-related violence continued, the Department of State decided to extend the warning just a few weeks ago.

“And this year didn’t start out as well either,” Chomat says, “but we weathered the storm and are ready to compete with the Caribbean again.”

Chomat reports that most of his Riviera Maya properties are seeing some impressive occupancies, mainly in the destination weddings segment. In fact, roughly 10 weddings are already booked at Karisma resorts for 2011. And he’s not the only one who is seeing the number return to normal.

Representatives from nearly 10 resorts in Los Cabos all told Travel Agent on Thursday during an event in New York City that numbers have been ranging from 70-100 percent since January.

So how did Mexico bounce back 10 time faster this year than it did in 2009?

Last year's news got tourists to actually look at a map and see where the tourist areas were compared to the areas of violence, says Salim Arkuch, director of sales and marketing for Fiesta Americana Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort.

“I think last year people didn’t really know how far away all of the drug stuff was to all of the tourism areas,” Arkuch says. “And this year, they are aware that the tourism areas are not affected by the violence.”

Mexico businesses know how to overcome a bad situation, which is why Mexico tourism will always flourish no matter how bad the press is, Chomat says.

“Mexico has always worked together,” Chomat says. "We may all be competitors but we always stick together through everything. I’ve seen it with H1N1. I’ve seen it with the gang violence. I’ve seen it with the economy. We always work together and that’s why we always survive.”

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