Mexico City returns to normal as swine flu restrictions fade
Restaurants and offices reopened Wednesday. High school and university students return to school tomorrow.
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And stigmas will be much harder to fight, especially in the tourism industry. Mexican Tourism Minister Rodolfo Elizondo has said that they anticipate tourism revenue to fall by 43 percent this year, as airlines cut their flights to Mexico, companies cancel their conferences, and honeymooners opt for other beach destinations.Skip to next paragraph
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Tourist cancellation rate soars to 70 percent
In Cancún, Mr. Elizondo said, cancellation rates are as high as 70 percent, and hotel occupancy rates for the first 10 days of May dropped to 44.8 percent; typically they are almost double that. In Mexico City, the normal hotel rate of 55 percent fell to just 15 percent at the end of April. Sixty-four port calls were canceled for cruise liners, meaning the loss of up to 134,000 passengers who could have stepped in Mexican territory to purchase food and souvenirs.
Four conventions were also cancelled, which would have brought in 47,000 visitors.
"No one loves us anymore," quipped a Mexican migration official as a visitor entered the country Monday evening.
Stigmas will be hard to fight even for Mexicans in Mexico, though, says Mr. Coutino. "For the restaurants and bars that open in coming days, they will not be working at full capacity because consumers are scared to go back," he says.
The crisis has caused some diplomatic havoc for Mexico. Cuba and Argentina temporarily cancelled flights – a move heavily criticized by Mexican officials. In China, dozens of Mexicans were quarantined without evidence of being ill with the swine flu. Mexico sent a charter flight to retrieve them, but registered its dissatisfaction with the way China handled the situation.
Not all things are back to normal. It is still unclear when gyms, movie theaters, and bars, which were all forced to close their doors, will be allowed to reopen.
And for those heading back to work today, not all agreed it was for the best. Rafael Lopez, a lawyer, says he feels office openings are too rushed. "I think it would be better to wait a few more days until this calms down," says Mr. Lopez, whose business attire was complemented by a face mask.
But Israel Acevedo, who hauls supplies for a construction company, says he couldn't be happier to get back to work – even though, unlike many in the informal economy, he expects to be paid by his company for the days missed.
Mr. Acevedo says there was an upside: he finished housework that had been sitting around for weeks – like fixing a doorknob on his front door – and spending family time with his wife and kids. "We are all ready to get back, though," he says.