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Misleading U.S. Media Coverage of Mexico

Misleading U.S. Media Coverage Conveys Unfair Picture

Of Baja, Rosarito Mayor Tells Mexico Business Center


            SAN DIEGO---Misleading U.S. media coverage has conveyed an inaccurate picture of the risk of visiting Baja and has been the main cause of a tourism decline, Rosarito Mayor Hugo Torres told a meeting of the Mexico Business Center Wednesday.

            “The public assumes there is a big danger,” guest speaker Torres told members of the San Diego Chamber committee, although Baja has not had one reported serious violent crime against its millions of visitors this entire year.

            Among inaccurate media reports cited by Torres was that four U.S. tourists were killed this past May. In fact, three were Mexicans and all had extensive criminal records, including involvement in drugs, and they were not in the area for tourism.

            Torres said that the media also conveyed the impression that violence from the Mexican government’s crackdown on drug cartels created a risk to visitors, while only police and criminals have been involved in some high-profile shootouts.

            “They are mixing a fight against drugs with danger to visitors,” he said of some media reports.

            The inaccurate perceptions led to Rosarito tourism being down as much as 60 percent the first part of this year, although the summer has only been down about 20 percent as people realize the area is safe and welcoming to visitors, he said.

            “We firmly believe we are going to recover,” he said. “The people are beginning to come back.”

            He said a lengthy border wait and especially a troubled U.S. economy also contributed to the decline in visitors to Rosarito, where 70 percent of jobs are dependent on tourism.

            “When the U.S. economy has a cold, we get pneumonia,” he said.

The reformist mayor also told the group of 30 business and civic leaders of steps he had taken to improve Rosarito since taking office last year: “I wanted to make a change; security was bad.”

            More than one third of city police who did not meet standards for honesty and performance have been replaced, he said, and the city has established a 24-hour-a-day ombudsman’s office for visitor assistance.

            Rosarito also has established a special Tourist Police Force of its best officers, with some assistance from the Anaheim Police Department, which has special expertise because of its involvement with Disneyland and its visitors.

            “The city also is committed to improving services and activities,” he said of Rosarito.

Posted: Saturday, August 23, 2008 9:31 AM by Herb Kinsey


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