Last month’s outbreak of the H1N1 virus, which led to the cancellation of thousands of flights and holidays, saw bookings plummet by around 80 per cent, while hotel occupancy reached a record low. However, since the Foreign Office ended its warning against all but essential travel to Mexico nearly two weeks ago, tour operators reporting a resurgence in bookings and enquiries.
The online travel agent, Sunshine.co.uk, claims that bookings have increased by 38 per cent during April and May, compared with the same period last year, while enquiries have doubled. The majority of bookings are for travel in November and December, according to Chris Brown, managing director of the Sunderland-based company.
A spokesperson for Journey Latin America said that it had also seen a rise in enquiries to the region.
The signs of recovery that will come as some relief to Mexico’s tourism authorities. The country launched a multi-million pound campaign on Monday in an effort to boost tourism, an industry that represents Mexico’s third largest source of foreign income, with more than 20 million visitors arriving from overseas each year.
Mexican authorities has enlisted the services of the opera singer Placido Domingo and the Barcelona footballer Rafael Marquez to support the $90 million campaign (£56.2 million), labelled “Vive Mexico”.
Travel industry professionals will be invited to tour the country, while hotels and airlines have been encouraged to cut back on prices in a bid to lure visitors. Some hotels have even resorted to offering swine flu “guarentees”, which promise a free future stay if a guest falls ill during their holiday.
The swine flu outbreak is believed to be responsible for 149 deaths in Mexico.
Meanwhile, a report today by the luxury operator, Hayes and Jarvis, will provide further encouragement. It claims that the long-haul market is showing increasing robustness, with late bookings to Kenya, Thailand and Sri Lanka – all off which have suffered political or civil unrest in recent years – showing a marked increase.
Kenya has experienced a 97 per cent year-on-year increase in bookings, while sales to Sri Lanka and Thailand rose by around 50 per cent during the last month, compared with the same month in 2008.
In a poll conducted by Telegraph Travel last month, 64 per cent of respondents said that swine flu had not put them off travelling to North America.
Vive Mexico: five great deals
Seven nights all-inclusive at the Gran Porto Real hotel in Playa del Carmen during June from £479 per person with Caribbean Collection (www.caribbeancollection.co.uk)
Seven nights at the Catalonia R Maya hotel in Puerto Aventuras, travelling from Gatwick in September, from £596 per person with Thomas Cook (www.thomascook.com)
Seven nights in June at the Grand Riviera Princess Hotel in Cancun, including flights from Gatwick, from £618 per person with Thomson (www.thomson.co.uk)
Fourteen nights during September at the Real Playa del Carmen Hotel on the Riviera Maya, including flights from Gatwick, from £871 per person with Sunshine.co.uk (www.sunshine.co.uk)
Twelve day Mexico adventure, including accommodation, transfers and tours of Mexico City, Chichen Itza and other Mayan ruins, from £966 per person with Journey Latin America (www.journeylatinamerica.co.uk)