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Mexican tourism continues to rebound from swine flu

Mexican tourism continues to rebound from swine flu

Mexico saw the revenue generated by tourism fall by 4.5 per cent in December, as the country sought to recover from an outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus.

The South American nation was declared the epicentre of the virus, which eventually spread around the world and caused the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare the first flu pandemic in more than 40 years.

However, despite widespread alarm, national death tolls remained relatively low, with the risk now believed to be in decline.

Yet, local tourism was badly damaged, with the total income from border crossings, tourists and cruise passengers totalling $1.17 billion (£0.74 billion) in December 2009.

This is down from $1.22 billion (£0.77 billion) in December 2008, according to data from the Bank of Mexico.


Revenue from tourism fell by 15 per cent for the full year when compared to 2008 – down to $11.28 billion (£7.2 billion).

Falls such as these are particularly important to Mexico, where tourism accounts for over 13 per cent of GDP, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). 

Ministry of Tourism figures suggest the outbreak could have cost Mexico some 6.8 per cent of its GDP in 2009.

At the height of the outbreak, during May 2009, Mexico recorded a 51 per cent drop in tourist arrivals to non-boarder areas when compared with a year earlier, while the number of cruise-ship passengers fell by some 91 per cent.

But there are now signs of a gradual recovery.

Tourist arrivals to non-border areas totalled 1.41 million in December 2009, down just 1.4 per cent from the same period of 2008, while the number of cruise-ship passengers rose 18 per cent, to 745,944.

Commenting on the figures, secretary of tourism Rodolfo Elizondo explained: “After the impact from the economic crisis and the outbreak of A/H1N1 influenza, the tourism sector in Mexico registered a recovery at the close of 2009 that was reflected by the arrival of tourists, currency inflows, and hotel occupancy.”

In response to the crisis the Mexican tourism industry launched a major promotional campaign - dubbed Vive Mexico – with Mr Elizondo also explaining how the country was exploring new market segments – including medical tourism.