Sorry, Tianguis

Only a mutated form of a contagious respiratory disease that affects pigs and humans could keep me away from this year’s Tianguis Turistico.

Enter the swine flu scare.

Suffice it to say, I am not in Acapulco, the site of this year’s Tianguis Turistico, but rather in my office in New York City, where I didn’t laugh as hard at the people wearing surgical masks on the train. They didn’t look any cooler, but they sure looked a bit smarter as reports indicate that New York has also seen cases of the flu that looks like something straight out of I Am Legend.

I informed my contacts in Mexico that I would not be attending after the initial Friday report on the unusual, part-animal, part-human flu spiraled out of control on Saturday.  

Allow me to put into perspective how big of a blow Mexico got dealt with this latest public relations nightmare. Tianguis Turistico is perhaps the Super Bowl of Mexico trade shows. And this year’s was slated to be one of the most important in recent history because it was going to give Mexico the perfect platform to prove it was safe despite all the drug-related crimes in the U.S. bordering towns that gave the destination its first public relations disaster.

Although I will not personally be in Acapulco, my colleague Jose Barreiro already arrived on Saturday before the news escalated. We will be relaying information from Barreiro to you throughout the day as well as other updates. As of this morning, Barreiro told me that a few clubs in Acapulco have been closed, several meetings at the show have been canceled and all flights from Acapulco that avoid Mexico City are “booked solid.”

Tianguis Doesn’t Skip a Beat

My colleague Jose Barreiro just e-mailed me to tell me that Tianguis Turistico is surprisingly going on without a hitch:

“What's amazing to me is that Tianguis seems like business as usual,” he told me. “Yes, there are the occasional masks but for the most part people here are conducting business and with a very 'this too shall pass' attitude.”

And it should be noted that this was written shortly after tremors from a 6.0-magnitude earthquake near Acapulco caused the center to evacuate. According to CNN a strong quake measuring 6.0 in magnitude struck southwestern Mexico and it was felt about 175 miles away in Mexico City, according to a CNN producer and the U.S. Geological Survey. USGS measured the quake's epicenter in the state of Guerrero about 43 miles northeast of Acapulco. The preliminary magnitude is 6.0, but that could change.

“People are already piling back in to the convention center ready to talk business and sell Mexico,” Barreiro told me. “I am really amazed even after all these years in the industry. It's like the travel industry has become super resilient ready for anything that's thrown at it.”

All the major hotel companies are at the show, including all major Mexican state tourist boards.

“So, while I am a little freaked out, the people representing the Mexican travel industry make me feel safe with their calm and determined approach towards life.”