Acapulco skyline // © 2009 Mitrush
Once again, Mexico is forced to deal with a tourism crisis. On June 6, the calm of downtown Acapulco was shattered by a four-hour gun battle that left 17 dead (13 suspected drug traffickers, two soldiers and two innocent bystanders). Reports compare the incident to a scene from an over-the-top Hollywood action movie, with thousands of rounds being fired and grenades being lobbed at the soldiers. When the battle was over and soldiers entered the besieged drug hideout, they found four bound men who claimed to be kidnapped Guerrero State police officers. No tourists were injured during the violent confrontation, although various reports say some vacationers were within earshot of the gun battle.
The gun smoke had barely cleared before more violence broke out on June 8 in which suspected members of the Beltran Leyva cartel gunned down two police officers — within steps of an Acapulco police station — and wounded two officers in a third incident.
How the incidents have affected U.S. travel to Acapulco remains relatively unclear, according to local sources.
“We have had no cancellations due to the violence,” said Edith Flores, sales manager for Las Brisas Acapulco. “Our hotel is in the tourist zone far from where the violence occurred near the downtown bullring.”
Flores notes that in contrast, the hotel did receive inquiries when swine flu was first reported in Mexico.
The Grand Hotel Acapulco, on the other hand, caters to the Mexico domestic market.
“We haven’t had any cancellations of our individual and group bookings, in fact, we haven’t even received a phone call about the recent violence,” said Esther Flores, the general manager for the hotel. “I attribute this to the relatively light news coverage.”
It remains to be seen whether the Acapulco incidents will be added to Mexico’s already overloaded cart of woe. The destination has been severely challenged in 2009, having endured intense media coverage of violent crime along the border and the recent swine flu epidemic, which resulted in a U.S. travel warning. The continuing economic recession in the U.S. has also had a negative effect on all non-essential travel, including vacations in Mexico.
Acapulco Convention and Visitors Bureau