Acapulco tourism: efforts to relaunch and erase the stain of organized crime

19/08/2020

Acapulco, on the Pacific coast, located in the state of Guerrero, used to be several decades ago the preferred vacation, beach destination for national and foreign tourists. It used to be a glamorous place and attracted international celebrities.

Acapulco, Guerrero
Acapulco, Guerrero

For example, it was during a vacation in this port in the 1960s that novelist Gabriel García Márquez came up with the idea of writing "One Hundred Years of Solitude. In 1975, Bill Clinton chose Acapulco for his honeymoon with Hillary. In 1977 it was the setting for some chapters of the popular program El Chavo del 8.

However, the infrastructure of the port was deteriorating and, in addition, from 2006 the violence of drug trafficking turned this destination into one of the most violent cities in Mexico. The U.S. State Department even maintains a recommendation not to visit the city or the state of Guerrero. This despite the fact that homicides decreased by approximately 20% in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2019.

Given this scenario, the last few months have seen great efforts to re-launch the image of this tourist destination, where they are placing their hopes in the return of visitors as the number of cases of coronavirus and the violence that used to scare off travelers slowly drops.

Hotels will now be able to accept guests at 40% of their capacity, compared to 30% previously under health restrictions.

Acapulco has reduced the number of deaths from COVID-19 to an average of 9.6 per day and has eased the overcrowding that plagued the city's hospitals at the start of the pandemic.

It has also been noted that the city, once ranked the fifth deadliest in Mexico, has fallen to 44th place. Homicides decreased by approximately 20 percent in the first half of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.

During his visit to the port of Acapulco, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador spoke out in favor of relaunching this destination.

"The pandemic is decreasing, it is notorious that it has decreased and will continue to decrease, there is no resurgence," said the president. "The bay of Acapulco is synonymous with beauty and I am optimistic that soon the economy and tourism will be reactivated to benefit Acapulco and Guerrero.

The controversial Acapulco tourism campaign

However, as part of these efforts to reposition Acapulco as a tourist destination, one that had that goal achieved the opposite with a controversial advertising spot.

The video 'Mom, I'm in Acapulco' portrayed young people having fun in the port by uncorking a bottle of champagne in a pool, drawing with lipstick on a disco mirror, painting their bodies in a Jacuzzi or showering with sensual dances.

"Eat what you want, have a fun day, night and early morning. Wear what you want, create your own style, but always stand out," invited the recording, which also proposes making "many friends and new loves" in this well-known city of the southern Mexican state of Guerrero.

The campaign had a negative impact on social networks, where users were calling it inappropriate, as well as classist and racist. So the tourism authorities were forced to take down the video.

"The video shown during the presentation of the campaign generated various reactions in the media, so the decision was made to remove it from the federal Tourism Ministry's social networks," the agency said in a statement.

The controversial video, published on the Internet last January and re-launched this week on the occasion of the summer tourism season, shows Acapulco in a festive and unbridled way.

"Acapulco is an icon of world tourism. Today we stop being a postcard of the past, today we change the rules. In fact, there are no rules," the images tell us, along with some strident electronic music.

The governor of the entity, Héctor Astudillo, also spoke out against this tourist campaign.

"I regret the misguided campaign to promote Acapulco; untimely, insensitive, and reckless. If you do not help us, do not harm us. Visitors, as we have always said, when this happens, we will be here waiting for you," he said through his Twitter account.

By Agencies