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Sefotur: Like Miami in the ‘80’s, Acapulco will Survive Violence

By: David Real | Real Acapulco News - 15 July, 2011

(Acapulco, ElSur 13 July) Guerrero’s tourism promotion secretary, Graciela Báez, commented that just as Miami in the decade of the 1980’s overcame the problem of violence, so also will Acapulco. She made her remark during a presentation by Anaya Amor architects, the company contracted to make a development plan for Acapulco’s traditional zone. She elaborated, “We will overcome this streak of violence, but we must do it in a planned and organized way, not ‘a la Mexicana.’ We need to see what successes have been achieved in other places, as was exactly the case with Miami. We need to imitate those successful tactics." She added, “In the 1980’s, you would not go to Miami, it was truly scary; they robbed and murdered, like New York in the 1970’s. Nobody wanted to go there, even though it was a great business center, but it was not exactly a good tourist destination because it was dangerous. But they overcame it.”

She explained the planning method used by the contractors, which is called FODA by its initials in Spanish (for strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats). The strengths of the Nautical Zone are the gentle waves on the beaches and its emblematic old buildings, like the historical quarter of many other tourist destinations. The weaknesses include the disorganization of Caleta and Caletilla beaches, the poor condition of the buildings, and the reputation that Acapulco’s downtown is not safe for those who come off the cruise ships. She likened Acapulco more to Rio de Janeiro than to Miami, which has also struggled with violence in poor neighborhoods, and which has worked hard to revitalize its traditional tourist areas.

For its part, the contract company presented the outline of a short- medium- and long-term investment plan to develop “Nautical Acapulco” in a way consistent with intelligent urban planning, up-scale tourism and protection of the natural environment. Three workshops will be presented at various points along the progress of the contract, to permit ample interaction between city officials and planners and the analysts for the contractor. The contract is for $2 million pesos, paid for out of federal funds. The completed plan is due for delivery in December.

The planning project is considered to be urgent. This year, according to the local chamber of commerce, 70 businesses in the traditional zone and the golden zone have closed their doors. The good news is that some new businesses have braved the trend and are opening for the first time. The local chamber of commerce president, Javier Saldívar Rodríguez, said it was urgent to replace the closed businesses, as it creates a negative impression to have closed and boarded establishments in the tourist zones. He said the problem relates to a drop in tourism because of the continuing financial crisis, the lack of security and the lack of adequate promotional efforts. He added that the problem of violence (including extortion threats against local businesses) is one of national scope, and is just not concentrated in Acapulco. “Unfortunately,” he said, “Acapulco is the one destination that the people in Europe and North America can identify with Mexico, and the other places, which have the same sort of problem, escape notice in the press.”