Fireflies at the sanctuary in Tlaxcala. Fireflies at the sanctuary in Tlaxcala.

Coronavirus cancels firefly viewing season in Tlaxcala

Decision was made to protect health of visitors, residents and fireflies

Tlaxcala’s Ministry of Tourism has announced that the 2020 firefly viewing season has been canceled due to concerns over the coronavirus. 

Last year some 127,000 tourists flocked to the firefly sanctuary in Nanacamilpa de Mariano Arista, located around 80 kilometers east of Mexico City, to view the millions of luminescent insects that put on a dazzling display of lights at dusk from June through August. 

The cancellation of the season means a potential loss of some 48 million pesos (US $2.13 million) to local tour operators and tourism-related businesses that have sprung up since the first firefly tours were offered in 2011.

Tourism Minister Anabel Alvarado Varela explained that the decision, made in consultation with representatives of the tourism sector, was made out of concern for the health of residents and visitors and also because antibacterial gel and other sanitizing products are harmful to the delicate insects.

Alvarado added that the break will help the sanctuary come back even stronger next year by allowing the species to reproduce unhindered by the distraction of visitors. 

Some 150 police, Civil Protection agents, National Guardsmen and other law enforcement officials will be deployed to patrol firefly habitats and ensure tourists don’t venture out on their own or congregate in groups that put their health at risk. 

The 200-hectare firefly sanctuary will also use the time to make improvements to the habitat. Also, certified guides plan to provide virtual tours and a digital platform will be developed to provide scientific information about the life cycle of the firefly and the benefits the species and the ecosystem will enjoy during this break. 

The virtual marketing of fireflies is part of a larger campaign by the Ministry of Tourism called “Enjoy Tlaxcala from Home,” which promotes tourist attractions, culture, history, gastronomy and art in the state through videos and photos posted to social media.  

As of June 17, Tlaxcala had 1,849 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and had seen 243 deaths.

Source: 24 Horas Puebla (sp) 

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