Friday, December 1, 2023

Beaches are open at Oaxaca destination, where virus cases are few

Hotel owners in Huatulco, Oaxaca, want tourists to know that the resort destination is open for business, especially as other municipalities in the state are taking strict new measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

Authorities in Santa María Colotepec, where part of the popular destination Puerto Escondido is located, have closed beaches and bars, banned the sale of alcohol and will only allow restaurants and hotels to operate at 20% of capacity, among other preventative measures in force for the rest of October.

That’s decidedly not the case in nearby Bahías de Huatulco where business is almost as usual, with hotels, beaches, tour operators, restaurants and other activities open although operating under strict sanitary protocols. 

Huatulco Hotel and Motel Association manager Pía Oberholzer says that none of their 22 member hotels have received cancellations after the Colotopec announcement, but she’s worried that potential visitors might confuse the two areas and change their travel plans. 

“We have received calls from visitors at the hotels asking if Huatulco is still open. There is a bit of uncertainty among tourists. We have not had cancellations, but many questions. That is why we want people to know that Huatulco is perfectly fine, that the beaches are open, hotels, restaurants and tourist services operate properly and sanitary measures are taken care of,”  she said.

Oberholzer claims that Huatulco, an hour and half drive from Puerto Escondido, is the beach destination with the fewest cases of coronavirus in Mexico. 

Currently, Huatulco is rated at medium risk yellow for the spread of Covid-19 — unlike the state which has returned to orange, or high risk on the stoplight risk map — and hotel and beach occupancy capacity is set at 50%, which is hoped will help reinvigorate a tourist industry that has been paralyzed for months.

Currently, occupancy is at 30% although the number of visitors is expected to pick up in December with Americans and Canadians fleeing winter weather.

The measures implemented in Colotepec have been harshly criticized by people in Oaxaca’s tourism industry, not only in the Puerto Escondido area but throughout the coast for generating confusion and uncertainty among potential visitors.

The municipality of Santa María Huatulco has just three active coronavirus cases. Since March, there have been 175 cases in total, and 11 deaths.

Colotepec’s numbers are even lower at 54 confirmed cases overall, three deaths and three currently active cases.

Across the state, 19,838 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed as of Monday and 1,583 people have died. 

Source: NVI Noticias (sp)

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