The Acapulco resort on Mexico’s Pacific coast is pinning its hopes on the return of tourists as the number of coronavirus cases and the violence that scared off travelers slowly decline.
The Guerrero state governor said on Friday that hotels will now be able to accept guests at 40% of capacity, up from 30% previously under pandemic restrictions. Governor Héctor Astudillo boasted that Acapulco has reduced the number of deaths from COVID-19 to an average of 9.6 per day and has alleviated the overcrowding that plagued the city’s hospitals at the beginning of the pandemic.
The city, once ranked as the fifth deadliest in Mexico, has fallen to 44th place. Homicides decreased approximately 20% in the first half of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador visited the once-glamorous resort on Friday and vowed to solve the pollution problems affecting its famous bay.
Unlike most experts, López Obrador predicted a quick end to the pandemic.
“The pandemic is decreasing, it is well known that it has decreased and will continue to decrease, there is no regrowth,” said the Mexican president. “Acapulco Bay is synonymous with beauty and I am optimistic, I feel that soon the economy and tourism will be reactivated for the benefit of Acapulco and Guerrero.”
Between the end of May and the beginning of June, Guerrero was the state with the highest occupancy of general beds in the entire country with 78% and in its capital, Chilpancingo, they had only five beds available with a respirator. In Acapulco, located about 350 kilometers south of Mexico City, the El Quemado General Hospital occupied 41 of 48 ventilator beds and the Renacimiento hospital exhausted its capacity.
Until Friday, Mexico has registered 505,751 cases of the new coronavirus and 55,293 deaths.
Even if those predictions come true, it will still be a long way back for Mexico’s ailing tourism industry. In the first quarter, tourism receipts were down 51.5% and the second quarter figures are sure to be worse.
With 800,000 rooms and almost 23,000 lodging establishments, Mexico occupies the seventh position in the world in hotel infrastructure.
According to the latest report released at the end of last year, in 2018 tourism contributed 8.7% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generated 2.3 million jobs.
The city located on the Pacific used to be a glamorous place and attracted international celebrities. It was during a vacation there in the 1960s that novelist Gabriel García Márquez came up with the idea of writing “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” In 1975, Bill Clinton took Hillary on their honeymoon to Acapulco.
But in the 1970s and 1980s, the port’s infrastructure deteriorated and poor settlements emerged around the bay, sparking problems of unemployment, crime, and pollution.
Starting in 2006, drug trafficking violence turned Acapulco into one of the most violent cities in Mexico. The US State Department maintains a recommendation not to visit the city or state of Guerrero despite the fact that homicides decreased approximately 20% in the first half of this year compared to the same period of 2019.