Mexico woos tourists after swine flu

May 14th, 2009 - 5:36 am ICT by IANS  

Mexico City, May 14 (EFE) In a bid to woo tourists into Mexico, hoteliers have come up with imaginative ideas, including an offer of free holidays for people contracting the disease while vacationing in the country.
Several countries have cancelled their flights to Mexico after it confirmed the swine flu outbreak in the country April 23. So far, 2,386 people have been infected by the influenza A(H1N1) virus, also called swine flu, including 60 deaths in the country.

Hundreds of tourists have left the country after the news.

The authorities said the worst phase of the deadly outbreak is over and the situation has improved. The officials have also allowed the reopening of schools and resumption of normal duties.

Due to the sharp drop in tourists arrivals, the hotels in Cancun and Riviera Maya, the country’s top tourist destinations, announced they would fully refund travelers’ vacation expenses if they contract the virus during their vacation in the Caribbean country.

“If the symptoms of the virus appear within 14 days of his or her departure from the country, than that person, along with a travel companion, is entitled to three years of free vacation, hotelier Fernando Garcia Zalvidea said.

He said the aim is to boost hotel occupancy that has fallen by 20 percent since the outbreak of the flu.

He added that as of Tuesday consortiums accounting for more than 5,000 guestrooms, including some four and five-star hotels, have signed on to the money-back promotion.

Zalvidea said all the hotels participating in the campaign are stepping up anti-flu measures.

He said visitors would now enjoy more privileges, including big discounts and entertainment packages.

“There’s never been a better opportunity than now to visit a tourist destination in Mexico; rates are available that are 50 percent lower than the original cost,” he said.

Mexico’s most popular coastal resorts does not have a single confirmed case of the A(H1N1) virus, Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said Wednesday.

He said Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Zihuatanejo and Los Cabos, popular tourists destinations on the Pacific coasts, have no swine flu cases.

However, in Cancun and Acapulco, tourist destinations, seven and eight cases of swine flu respectively, have been confirmed.

The authorities estimate the country would earn just $9.36 billion from the tourism sector this year, 30 percent less than last year’s income of $13.29 billion.

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