Six bodies were found hanging from bridges near major tourist areas in Los Cabos late Wednesday.
Two of the bodies were found near Los Cabos International Airport, hanging from a bridge in Las Veredas, while two more were on a bridge on the highway between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, Reuters reports. Two more bodies were found on a third bridge near the airport. While authorities have not released details on what happened to the men, drug gangs often hang the bodies of their murdered victims publicly in order to intimidate rivals. Fueled by drug gang violence, 2017 is on pace to become Mexico’s deadliest year in modern history.
Following the incident, Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board, told Travel Agent that the destination is making progress on a five-point action plan to improve the destination’s security.
“The marine base is already under construction, with the opening expected in late 2018,” Esponda said. In early 2018 the destination is also introducing 200 new police that have been trained in Mexico City. The new personnel will be stationed in Los Cabos permanently.
Los Cabos is also making progress on expanding its surveillance system, Esponda says, adding new cameras and wiring existing hotel security cameras into a centralized crime reporting system. All told, the security plan represents an investment of $47 million.
In late August the violence prompted the State Department to issue a Mexico travel warning that included Los Cabos. Earlier that month, a shooting broke out on an area beach reportedly frequented by tourists. In response to the travel warning and violent incidents, the destination implemented the new security plan in a partnership between the public and private sector. The plan also includes organizing a hotel security committee to share best practices and setting new training and security protocols aligned with OSAC (Overseas Security Advisory Council) standards.
In January, the destination is aiming to improve communication with travel agents with the launch of a new B2B website at visitloscabos.travel. The new website will have a section dedicated to travel agents that will include photos, itineraries and example videos they can share with clients.
“With all that’s been going on we need to strengthen and streamline communication with travel agents,” Esponda said, noting that the new website will have a chat feature that will let agents get answers to hotel and tourism questions in real time.
Esponda also emphasized that, despite the recent violence, the destination’s tourism sector has proved resilient. In October and November of this year, hotel occupancy had bounced back to pre-travel warning levels. The year overall has seen new records set in terms of both international and domestic visitation, and the destination has been able to maintain its average daily rate in spite of adding new hotel rooms.
“The fact that we have such a high number of repeat tourists that own homes, timeshares, condos, really speaks to the resiliency of the destination,” Esponda said. "These kinds of incidents will make people more united and stronger to come back against these challenges."