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Tourism Secretaries Minimize Impact of Violence

By: David Real | Real Acapulco News - 08 August, 2011

(Acapulco, ElSur 5 August) Érika Lührs, Acapulco’s secretary of tourism, and Graciela Báez, Guerrero’s tourism promotion secretary, have reconciled differences that had arisen between them concerning promotion of tourism in Acapulco and Guerrero. The main sticking point was over how to work with the federal tourism Secretary, Gloria Guevara, who has been viewed in Acapulco as an enemy. Yesterday the two spoke with the press about their resolve to cooperate and collaborate on tourism promotion efforts.

Ms. Báez indicated to reporters that in her opinion the recent acts of violence in Acapulco, several of them in the tourist zone, were “isolated incidents.” She reiterated that during Holy Week Acapulco reached 98% hotel occupancy, and that “tourists like coming to Acapulco, the have fun coming to Acapulco, they feel secure in Acapulco, and for that reason they keep on coming.” In response to a reporter’s question, Ms. Báez answered that “fortunately the tourists that have been affected [by the question of violence] are a small number compared to the total of those who arrive. Really, it is not a significant number,” she said.

To her credit, Érika Lührs, Acapulco’s secretary of tourism, acknowledged that the violence has hurt the city’s tourist trade, but agreed that counteractions to the negative press are being taken much more rapidly, to minimize the damage. The two spoke of counteracting Acapulco’s negative image through public relations campaigns and promotional activities, mentioning television spots in Mexico City. Critics in the tourism industry in Acapulco had said that the promotional efforts were nil or almost nil, and that you can’t counteract violence with public relations. Ms. Báez mentioned the contract with Zimat Consultores, which was made public just a couple of weeks ago, even though it commenced in April and now is past its halfway point. The contract is controversial because it pays over $22 million pesos, but has not resulted in any efforts that critics have been able to qualify as positive and concrete.

Separately, representatives of Mexico’s Confederation of Labor (CTM), which represents workers in Acapulco’s tourism sector, blasted the two secretaries of tourism for saying things that were unrealistic. Senator Antelmo Alvarado García, the Guerrero Secretary General of the CTM, said “of course the violence affects tourists. It is not the same thing to look at it from behind a desk as it is to live the situation. They [Báez and Lührs] don’t know; we live with this in the hotels, we hear the waiter complain, the housekeeper, they talk about everything that’s going on, that suddenly they have to refuse service at night because the boss doesn’t give them taxi fare to go home, and they are afraid to go out in the streets.” He added, “The reality is that we are even afraid to speak out.”

As for the prospects for Acapulco, the labor leader declared, “This is going to be much more damaging than the Tianguis Turístico affair, that is a real truth. Our leaders need to get going and act, and if not, they need to go.” He also predicted “terrible repercussions” from the recent murders in the Condesa area and on the Costera Alemán. When asked about Graciela Báez’s statement that the tourists keep on coming in spite of the violence, he said, “She is safe and cozy in her office; we are the poor ones who have to work.”