With spring breaking, and wanderlust mounting, an invitation to Cuernavaca, Mexico, seemed the perfect antidote to the winter doldrums to which your sulky Fort Worth Friday correspondent has lately succumbed. As old as Mexico itself, Cuernavaca contains the oldest preserved colonial building in the Americas, the nearly 500-year-old Palacio de Cortés, built atop an earlier, demolished, Aztec structure. Fifty years ago, Cuernavaca was a sleepy little resort town of 35,000. Now at 350,000 souls, Cuernavaca is a big little place, with great shopping, frequent cultural events and even fewer reasons to return to the capital which, on a good day, is a short 45 minutes to the north.
I feel so sorry for our neighbor to the south. I am signed up for several Google alerts — guess which one sends me the most stories? Crime in Mexico, Mexico crime. It’s enough to make you want to never cross the border, which is not fair, of course. The entire country of Mexico is not dangerous. But the government just HAS to get a grip on the drug cartel problem.
Of course, as my Mexican friends tell me, if we Americans would stop buying drugs, there wouldn’t be a Mexico drug problem.
“Safety is very important to us and we believe this change is necessary to provide the best family vacation experience for our guests.”
The cruise lines are also making stops in Cabo San Lucas, on the Baja California peninsula — no safety fears there.
Recent security incidents in Mazatlan — a woman had her necklace snatched from around her neck –are troubling the cruise lines, who are, after all responsible for the safety of their guests. Of course, last year Mazatlan was bragging that Disney’s decision to resume stops at the port was a sign of growing confidence in the city, and Disney Wonder had planned 27 port calls in Mazatlan in 2011.
Believe it or not, Mazatlan has continued to thrive as a tourist destination despite drug-gang violence in other parts of Sinaloa state, where it is located, which is also Ground Zero for several Mexican cartels. You would think, of course, that all this would hurt tourism. But guess what: Mexico’s tourism revenue was up 7.1 percent in the first 10 months of 2010, compared to the same months of 2009, with visitors spending $9.8 billion, according to the Mexican Tourism Ministry. (My take: Americans will risk anything for a vacation, and vacations in Mexico fit most budgets. So the Mexican Tourism Industry is benefitting from our economic crisis.) The resort of Cancun in the Yucatan peninsula, and Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast, for instance, have been largely untouched by the violence.
Still, if those gross Google crime alerts continue, and be-headings and massacres keep making head-lines (pardon the sick pun), tourism and second home sales in Mexico are going to take a major hit. Stay tuned for Central America.