Another blow for Acapulco tourism

Meagan Drillinger

In the wake of Hurricane Otis, a Category 5 hurricane that battered the resort city of Acapulco on Oct. 25, the government of Mexico has made the decision to pull Acapulco as the host of the 2024 Tianguis Turistico.

According to a message on the Tianguis Turistico website, Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism Miguel Torruco Marques and the governor of Guerrero state, Evelyn Salgado Pineda, are looking for a new host city for the event. The 2024 edition of the annual trade show is slated to be held March 11-15. Seeing as it is only November, that should give an indication of just how destructive the hurricane was. 

According to Reuters, more than 100 people in Acapulco are dead or missing in the wake of Otis. The hurricane slammed into the Mexican Pacific resort city with winds of 165 mph, causing flooding; destroying homes, hotels and businesses; and cutting off land and air connections to the rest of the country. 

“The authorities agree that the times for the total recovery of the port of Acapulco force this decision to be made,” says a message on the website. 

Related: As hurricane season gets longer and stronger, advisors recommend talk of the weather

It is a heartbreaking decision to make, as the Tianguis Turistico is so much more than a trade show. It is a driving force for the tourism industry in Mexico. According to Sectur, Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism, the 2023 Tianguis Turistico, held in Mexico City, resulted in more than 88,000 business meetings. By the end of the event, nearly $70 million in sales had been recorded.

Apart from the canceling of the Tianguis in Acapulco, the destination, its residents and its tourism industry have a long road to recovery ahead. A special report released at the end of October said that an estimated 98 percent of homes and 80 percent of hotels in Acapulco are damaged. The first estimates show that damage is reported to be about $15 billion dollars.

Mexico’s reconstruction plan

On Nov. 1, Mexico released a general plan for the reconstruction of Acapulco. The plan includes:

• Support family members of those who lost their lives with what is necessary to carry on as well as intensify the search for the missing.
• Incorporate 10,000 more people into programs designed to help with cleaning, construction and painting.
• Food baskets will be provided every week for 250,000 families for three months.
• Money will be distributed to families for cleaning and painting their homes and businesses.
• National Guard barracks will be established in larger neighborhoods to guarantee peace and safety and to prevent looting. 
• The Secretary of Infrastructure and Communications will allocate 218 million pesos from its budget to help rebuild the Acapulco-Chilpancingo highway as well as the federal highway, which connect the Costa Grande with the Costa Chica. 

These are just some of the bullet points in the plan that was released by the government. Before tourism can even begin to rebuild, the basic needs of the people of Acapulco and Guerrero state need to be met. Access to food and water remains a challenge. Cars are still buried in mud. Hurricane Otis is one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit Mexico. It is the third Category 5 hurricane to hit Mexico, but the first to make landfall as a Category 5 in the Pacific. 

Topics that will still be evaluated in the coming weeks are reconstruction and economic reactivation as well as the response of president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, as 2024 is an election year in Mexico.

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