Also in the LA Times, this story of how the number of tourists visiting Mexico increased substantially over the summer.
In a surprising turnabout, international tourism to Mexico showed a sharp increase this summer — a sign that tourists may be putting aside worries about the economy and fears of drug-related violence, analysts say.
Foreign visitors arriving by air to Mexico jumped to 7.1 million in the first eight months of the year — up nearly 20% from the same period in 2009 — with most visitors coming from the U.S. and Canada, according to Mexican tourism officials.
The biggest rise came in July, when tourist numbers grew 27.5% over the same month last year. The increase came in spite of a rash of drug-related violence and kidnappings, primarily along the border, and the August bankruptcy of Mexicana Airlines, the nation’s largest air carrier.
The growth in tourism has been focused primarily in Mexican beach resort towns that have not experienced much of the violence. In the first eight months of 2010, 7.1 million foreign travelers flew to Mexico, up 19.2% from the same period last year. Of those visitors, 4.33 million were from the U.S., 1.3 million from Canada and 200,513 from Spain, according to Mexican tourism officials.
The latest numbers are a significant increase from 2009, when international tourism to Mexico dropped dramatically after the outbreak of the H1N1 virus, or swine flu. But compared with 2008, international travel to Mexico is up only 6%. Still, analysts say, the latest jump in visitors suggests that U.S. travelers feel more confident about spending on travel again and see Mexico as a good bargain for vacations.
“Memories of last year have started to fade,” said Anthony Concil, a spokesman for the International Air Transport Assn., a trade group for the world’s airlines. Local travel agents say the growth in tourists’ interest in Mexico comes from a pent-up demand to travel. “I think there’s a perception is that it’s a good deal,” said Carol McConnell, founder of Around the Globe Travel in Huntington Beach. “But it’s mostly about being where the water and the weather is really nice.”