The rapid recovery programme carried out in Mexico«s leading Caribbean resorts after the devastation caused by Hurricane Wilma last year should be used as a blueprint for other tourism regions facing similar catastrophes says World Tourism Organization
(UNWTO) Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli.Following a visit to some of the worst-affected areas around Cancœn, Mr Frangialli said: “Getting these resorts back into action so quickly after such a destructive hurricane is a credit to the combined efforts of both public and private sectors in Mexico.
“With climate change increasingly threatening the livelihood of the tourism industry, the speed and efficiency shown in the recuperation of these resorts is worthy of being a role model to be followed by other destinations around the world.”
During a fact-finding tour to Mexico in which he promised UNWTO’s continuing support in assisting in the recovery efforts, Mr Frangialli said that despite Wilma’s lashing of the Caribbean coast in October the number of foreign tourists to Mexico had managed to rise to almost 22 million and their spending to 12 billion US dollars.
The vigour shown in restoring the damage to the country’s leading resort area was recognized barely a month after the hurricane struck in a resolution approved at the UNWTO General Assembly in Senegal, a copy of which he presented to Mexican President Vicente Fox.
As a result Mexico had joined a special group created at the assembly and chaired by France to draw up a joint plan to prepare for and offer management guidelines for future crises that may affect the industry. Among these was the threat of a global avian flu pandemic, Mr Frangialli told the president.
On his visit to Cancun, during which he was accompanied by the Mexican Under-Secretary for Tourism Francisco Madrid and UNWTO’s Regional Representative for the Americas Carlos Gutierrez, Mr Frangialli held talks with the Governor of Quintana Roo state and officials from the city as well as nearby hurricane-affected communities on the Riviera Maya, Cozumel and the Islas Mujeres islands.
He also met with representatives of the media and the private tourism sector on a tour that included several of the restored beach areas.
“It was clear to see the impressive progress that has already been made, demonstrating that Cancun and Mexico’s other Caribbean destinations have made a speedy recovery in restoring the levels of quality and services that have made this one of the world’s leading tourist destinations,” he said.
Latest tourism figures for the region show an average 83 per cent occupation of the 53,000 hotel beds. While refurbishment continues at Cancun airport, terminal 1 is completely operative for scheduled and charter flights and all main roads in the area have been reopened to traffic.