Mexico City has begun offering tourists free insurance for tourists in a bid to lure back visitors scared by swine flu, which broke out in Mexico in April.
The Tourist Assistance Card is the first of its kind in the world, and offers tourists staying at any of the city’s 460 register hotels free access to medical assistance, not only for swine flu symptoms, but also for accidents, ambulance transport, hospitalization and medicines.
The cover also includes dental care, repatriations, legal assistance after robberies, lost luggage and delayed or cancelled flights.
The mayor of Mexico City, Marcelo Ebrard, issued the first cards to a handful of foreign tourists this week.
“It aims to place our city where we want to be,” Ebrard told AFP.
The Mexican capital hosts some three million tourists each year, but the swine flu epidemic has crippled the local travel and tourism industry.
Hotel occupancy rates sunk to as low as 10 percent in April and May. But signs of recovery are on the way. Rates have currently recovered to 59 percent. Officials say A(H1N1) is now under control in Mexico, which has reported 138 deaths and some 14,800 cases.
The industry is now working tirelessly to rebuild its image as one of the world’s leading holiday destinations.
In September, Mexico will be hosting the World Travel Awards, the first time that the prestigious event will be held in Central America.