Wilma hits Cancun throughout year

The harsh blow dealt to the Caribbean resort of Cancun by Hurricane Wilma in October 2005 left lingering bruises throughout this year. The city - Mexico’s top tourist draw - receiving nearly a third fewer visitors.

The tourism secretariat of the state of Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located, said that in the first 10 months of 2006, 1.98 million tourists visited the resort. That was almost a million fewer than during the same period in 2005.

The dip cost the region about a half-billion dollars, according to the official estimate.

The slow-moving storm battered the area for a couple days beginning Oct. 21, 2005, drastically eroding beaches and damaging hotels and other tourist infrastructure, as well as the homes of thousands of local residents.

November and December of last year saw the area’s tourist industry virtually shut down.