Last month, Acapulco was the center of a media storm when a gun battle between drug traffickers and soldiers left 17 dead — 13 suspected drug traffickers, two soldiers and two innocent bystanders. 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 it was clear that Acapulco was about to endure the kind of negative media attention that could damage the resort destination’s tourism appeal for a period of time.
“What happened [last month] is already forgotten,” said Piquis Rochin, the director of international promotion for the Acapulco Destination Marketing Office. “The police did their job and everything is back to normal. There were phone calls from travelers expressing concern, especially from groups, but we have had no reports of cancellations. If the hotels had received cancellations they would have immediately notified us.”
The violent incident was not in any of Acapulco’s main tourist areas — instead it occurred in a residential area, a ten-minute drive from downtown Acapulco. Rochin is confident in recommending that tourists still visit downtown. She also gives high marks to the Mexico Tourism Board for their response to the media reports of the violence. “They’ve done a great job of getting out there and telling the truth,” she said.
Rochin explained that the months of May, June and September are the low season for Acapulco, so measuring the future effect of the violence on tourism arrivals is hard to gauge at this time. According to Rochin, current hotel occupancy is between 60 to 70 percent.
Over the years, Acapulco has become more and more a domestic tourism destination; the current split is 80 percent domestic and 20 percent foreign visitors, primarily from the U.S. and Canada.
Rochin thinks Acapulco is on track to change these numbers. She points to various high-profile developments, including Mundo Imperial development in Acapulco’s Diamond Zone. This is a huge project encompassing a resort hotel, theater, exhibition space and retail shops. Rochin also thinks luxe projects like the Banyan Tree Cabo Marques, W Las Brisas Hotel and others will help put Acapulco on the map when it comes to enticing foreign visitors.
The violence will also have no effect on Tianguis or the street market remaining in Acapulco.
“There are always rumors of Tianguis moving to another Mexican city, but Tianguis will remain in Acapulco,” said Rochin.