The Mexican Pacific resort city of Acapulco, which has been plagued by a wave of drug-related violence, is dealing with an unprecedented image crisis, Guerrero state Tourism Development Secretary Graciela Baez said.
Acapulco, one of the oldest tourist destinations in Mexico, “is experiencing the worst image crisis in its history,” Baez said in a press conference Tuesday.
Crime is the main reason that tourists are staying away from Acapulco, but “worn out” infrastructure and a bad public transit system are also problems, the tourism development secretary said.
Acapulco needs support from the federal government “more than ever,” Baez, who took office on Monday, said.
The Tourism Secretariat had plans to turn the annual Tianguis tourism fair, which has been held for 35 years in Acapulco, into a traveling exhibition, Baez said.
“Acapulco does not need to lose events,” the tourism development secretary said.
Preliminary figures indicate that both domestic and foreign tourist arrivals are falling in the resort city, Baez said.
The new state government’s main goal is to target the U.S. market and identify marketing opportunities, the tourism development secretary said.
Acapulco has been the scene of several drug-related killings in the past few days linked to a broader war for control of the area being waged by several drug cartels.
The Cartel Independiente de Acapulco, the Pacifico Sur cartel and the Gulf cartel have been fighting for control of the resort city.
Gunmen clashed with federal and state security forces Monday in an incident that featured the use of grenades and started fires in several businesses.
In January, 22 people were massacred in Acapulco by suspected members of the Cartel Independiente de Acapulco, officials said.
Of the 22 victims, 15 were beheaded, and all the bodies were dumped outside a shopping center along with so-called “narcomessages.”
The war between the rival drug cartels left 370 people dead last year in Acapulco alone.
The violence has prompted tourists, especially those from abroad, to stay away from Acapulco.
Former Tourism Development Secretary Ernesto Rodriguez Escalona warned in February that Acapulco would likely be avoided this year by spring breakers from the United States and Canada.
“We lost the spring break season completely in Acapulco,” Rodriguez Escalona said.
About 13,000 college students spent their spring breaks in the resort city last year, the hotel association said.