Interested in a Mexican beach holiday? Huatulco looks to be the safest bet for those hoping to steer clear of infection by the new coronavirus.
Located in the southern state of Oaxaca, the Pacific coast resort town has recorded just 47 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic and just one case is currently active, official data shows.
According to a local tourism organization, Huatulco has recorded the lowest number of coronavirus cases among Mexico’s 14 most important beach destinations.
Among the popular coastal destinations where the coronavirus has taken a much stronger hold are Acapulco, Guerrero, which has recorded 5,414 confirmed cases; Cancún, Quintana Roo, 3,520; Mazatlán, Sinaloa, 1,998; Los Cabos, 1,123; and Puerto Vallarta, 1,029 cases.
Municipal tourism official Ricardo Pacheco told the newspaper El Universal that hotel occupancy was just 6% last week.
However, it’s predicted that hotels will reach 20% occupancy in August and 70% by the end of the year as long as coronavirus case numbers remain low, he said.
An increase in visitor numbers is sorely needed in order to begin to recoup the losses incurred in recent months.
According to the Huatulco Tourism Observatory, more than one million fewer tourists and cruise ship passengers than normal visited the resort city in April, May and June. The economic cost of the tourism downturn is estimated to be just under 5 billion pesos (US $227.8 million).
In addition, some 8,000 tourism sector workers lost their jobs and more than 20,000 other workers were affected by the virtual disappearance of tourism revenue.
As the sector slowly begins to recover, those lucky enough still to have jobs are determined to do all they can to keep the coronavirus at bay.
One such person is Glafira Ríos Soriano, an employee at a restaurant located at Huatulco’s La Entrega Beach.
Despite the heat, she wears a face mask and protective glasses throughout her shift and ensures that the restaurant is kept squeaky clean.
Ríos told El Universal that friends of her daughter, a nurse in Acapulco, have died of Covid-19 and that some of her relatives have been infected with the virus.
“I’m scared because the risk is big, that’s why I wear protection all day, not just for me but for the customers as well,” she said.
Ríos said that her restaurant currently has just 15% of the customers it would normally have at this time of the year but added that she and her colleagues were still hopeful that they can earn some tips to supplement their weekly wages.
Carlos Javier Cárdenas Ortega, owner of the Camarón Gigante (Giant Shrimp) restaurant, said that closing for three months while continuing to pay a wage to his employees was difficult, although he managed to keep his business afloat. However, surviving another shutdown wouldn’t be possible, he said.
One positive of the enforced shutdown was that it gave the natural environment a chance to recuperate, Cárdenas said.
“Nature cleansed itself, the beach in this area [Maguey Bay] is different; the area with clams recovered, dogfish and turtles were seen again,” he said.
“Today, Maguey Bay is more oxygenated and cleaner, and we want it to stay that way because it’s attractive for tourism.”
Source: El Universal (sp)