Mexico invests big to lure back tourists


MEXICO CITY — Mexico on Monday launched a multi-million-dollar campaign dubbed “Mexico’s alive” to kickstart the tourism sector after swine flu scared away many visitors by killing 80 here.

International stars, including Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, Mexican film actor Diego Luna and soccer player Rafael Marquez, from FC Barcelona, are taking part in adverts for the campaign launched by President Felipe Calderon.

Calderon said the new campaign involved an unprecedented investment in the country’s tourism industry, including 90 million dollars in the next few months.

“It’s more than a promotional campaign, it’s a national movement which requires the participation of all Mexicans, especially those who are most well-known,” Calderon said, surrounded by Mexican celebrities.

Tour companies would launch a wide range of promotions to lure back tourists from alternative destinations, Calderon added.

The A(H1N1) epidemic hobbled the Mexican tourist industry, which provides the country’s third source of foreign income after oil and remittances.

The flu’s impact, including on tourism, was expected to cost Mexico’s economy around 2.3 billion dollars, around 0.3 percent of gross domestic product.

Mexico has now lifted precautionary measures applied at the start of the flu scare and officials insist that the new cases are on the wane at the epicenter of the outbreak.

Between 22-23 million foreigners usually visit the country’s famous Aztec and Mayan ruins, pristine beaches and colonial towns each year, according to official figures.