Message to President: Tourism Needs Action, Not Decrees
(Acapulco, El Sur 5 March) Hotel executive Sergio Salmerón Manzanares expressed skepticism about the recently announced government plan to reposition Mexico in the international tourism market. President Calderón announced the initiative on Tuesday, in which he lists 100 strategic planning elements to put Mexico in the top five tourist destinations of the world within the next six-year presidential mandate. It was at Tuesday’s announcement that Calderón’s tourism secretary, Gloria Guevara Manzo, made the controversial remark that Acapulco´s struggle with violence was not the cause of the disappearance of Spring Break college students from the market.
Mr. Salmerón is the director of the Playa Suites Hotel. In an interview yesterday he said that the government needed to take action, not simply come up with more decrees and regulations or show how well-intentioned everyone is. “The 100 points are fine,” he said, “but someone has to bring them down to earth and turn them into reality.”
“These problems get resolved by work, by political and economic will; I believe the state must act as facilitator of the activity. Even though the President is in the last year of his administration, he needs to replant for the future and place more trust in tourism.” Salmerón called upon everyone – private and public sectors, academics, commercial people, service suppliers, students of tourism – to work towards real objectives, and not let the matter lapse into empty political slogans, “as usually happens.”
On the matter of security for tourists, he said, “We must recognize that this is a problem, but it is not a great topic for promotion. Tourists need security and we must work for that. We must be creative, innovative, and really make things happen.” But you can’t use safety as a feature to promote a tourist destination.
The hotel executive called upon the President and his Tourism Secretary to consider Acapulco in their plan for repositioning tourism to Mexico. “Mexico owes a lot to Acapulco: it was the first tourist destination and has been the first for many years. Acapulco represents Mexico throughout the world. I’m not saying that others, like Cancun or Ixtapa, are unimportant, but we were the first, and we need more attention from the federal government.” He said that tourism represents over 60 percent of Guerrero state’s gross domestic product, which demonstrates its critical importance to Mexico´s second poorest state.