Mexico City, Mexico, May 09, 2009 --(PR.com
)-- The few tourists remaining in Mexico City this past week took pictures in the deserted Zocalo and wandered freely down the normally bustling streets of the capital’s historical city center. Unfortunately they were unable to visit the well-known museums, art galleries and archaeological sites popular among tourists. Virtually all cafes, restaurants and bars have been closed since the 1st of May, a preventative measure to avoid the spread of the H1N1 flu.
The past 2 weeks have been witness to closures of businesses and cancellations causing losses of an estimated $57 million USD a day in Mexico City according to Mexico City’s Chamber of Commerce. A situation which residents of Mexico City and major players in Mexico’s tourism industry fear will last into the summer season.
Mexico Tourism Industry: How has it been affected by the H1N1 virus?
Bamba Experience, adventure travel tour operator in Mexico and Central America, offering one-of-a-kind Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Passes and organized tours, has suffered from cancellations and a negative image of Mexico in the eyes of foreigners with plans to travel to Mexico. Not only Bamba Experience has been troubled by cancellations, but also a majority of the hotels in the city have been empty as travelers return to their home countries or leave Mexico hoping to flee from the H1N1 virus.
Paul Sarfati, the owner of Bamba Experience, stated “The flu-scare was blown way out of proportion by the Mexican and World media, a situation that is causing major losses to my business and the tourism industry as a whole. The travel warnings and travel bans are persuading people not to travel to Mexico right now, but we have already felt the repercussions of these bans as travelers are canceling their trips for this summer. We want tourists to know that everything is back to normal, it is ok to travel in Mexico and they should follow through with their travel plans.”
Life in Mexico: What’s actually going on?
After a week of uncertainty in Mexico, life is returning to normal as businesses re-open and commuters take to the streets using public transportation. Faced with the scare of the unknown H1N1 flu, inhabitants of the country took precautions against the virus and stayed at home or temporarily exchanged their city-lives for a vacation at the beach over the “5 de Mayo” weekend.
As more information is released, it has become clear that the virus is not as serious as authorities had originally suspected and has even been compared to the seasonal flu confirmed by statements from the acting director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Mexican Health Minister.
“So far, the severity of illness we’re seeing in this country is similar to what we’re seeing with seasonal flu,” Dr. Richard E. Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said.
The Mexican health minister, José Ángel Córdova, said that this new strain of influenza A(H1N1) appeared only slightly more contagious than the seasonal flu.
Mexican authorities have stated that there are 700 confirmed cases of infection, and 26 deaths from the virus. Considering a city with approximately 24 million residents, these numbers pale in comparison to statistics from deaths caused by traffic accidents, seasonal flu and other trivial events. These numbers leave us with the doubt, why is everyone panicking?
Travel to Mexico: Is it safe?
A Mexican Tourism Board spokesman, on the eve of the Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend, said the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. State Department all advised U.S. travelers there was no need to change, restrict or alter plans to Mexico, the Baja Times said.
As always, travelers should exercise caution while traveling in order to protect themselves from any type of flu or seasonal colds by washing their hands, not sharing food and drink, checking the level of hygiene at restaurants and avoiding eating at street stands or unclean marketplaces. Taking vitamins, consuming healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables and drinking lots of water is another way to keep the immune system strong during your travels.
The owner of Bamba Experience invites foreign travelers to follow through with their travel plans to explore Mexico and Central America keeping in mind the precautions suggested by the Mexican health department such as hand washing.
“Mexico and Central America are beautiful destinations that you cannot miss!” said Mr. Sarfati.