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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

MEXICO - Mexico launches new tourism campaign to combat fears over violence

Mexico has launched a new adertising campaign to counter its image as a country wracked by drug-related violence and reinvigorate the vital tourist industry after US travel alerts warned Americans of violence south of the border.

"Those travel alerts that were headlining 'If you want to stay alive, don't travel to Mexico,' we felt they were not only totally inaccurate but irresponsible," Mexico Tourism Board CEO Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete said.
Mexico is spending millions of dollars on print media and billboard advertisements in US cities showing its ancient pyramids and sunny beaches to stop Americans from cancelling their visits.
While thousands of American tourists have been scared away by the brutal drug war raging in parts of Mexico, Mr Lopez-Negrete said the volume of people visiting Mexican resorts was back up to 2008 levels, although revenues were down because hotels were offering cheaper deals to draw wavering tourists.
"We were able to drive volume upwards at a cost of lower pricing but we are happy with that because as in any other business, volume comes back first, then you start escalating to the proper pricing," he said. "That's the strategy."
Mr Lopez-Negrete said the inaccurate travel alerts were hurting tourism, which accounts for 9 per cent of Mexico's economic output and is its third biggest source of foreign currency.

The drug violence is occurring far from the most popular resorts such as Cancun, Huatulco, Ixtapa, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos, the Mexican official said, urging US authorities to be more specific in their alerts.
In March, the Texas Department of Public Safety warned college revellers not to travel to Mexico for spring break with the message: "Stay alive."
Foreign visitors spent $11.9 billion (£7.3bn) last year in Mexico, up 5 per cent from 2009 when the global economic crisis and H1N1 virus scares took their toll on global tourism. But 2010 figures were still down 10 per cent from $13.3 billion in 2008.
More than 37,000 people have been killed in Mexico since late 2006 when President Felipe Calderon took office and sent the Mexican armed forces to crush powerful cartels battling for lucrative smuggling routes to the United States.