As the world worries about the spread of swine flu, concern is also growing over the effect the virus will have on Mexico’s lucrative tourism industry.
The EU, US and Canada have advised against non-essential travel to the country, while several countries have temporarily suspended all inbound and outbound flights. In New York, travel agencies are expecting a drop in bookings: “Of course it will affect us. Forty percent of our clients here are Mexicans. But they are not the only ones who travel to Mexico. Mexico is one of the favourite travel destinations of North and South Americans,” said one salesperson. Several cruise companies have also temporarily cancelled calls to ports in Mexico, while global business travel has also been affected. “The good thing is that I don’t think we are seeing panic at all. The airlines have adjusted their policies. Most of the major carriers are allowing people to cancel without penalties or change their arrangements without penalties, which is a good thing to do” said Paul Rudin, Senior Vice President of the American Society of Travel Agents. Tourism is worth around 10 billion euros annually to Mexico, accounting for eight percent of the country’s economy. Mexico City’s historical centre normally brims with tourists but these days there are few to be seen.