Mexico’s flagship tourism website has been down since Friday, allegedly suspended for lack of payment, although the company that has been in charge of managing the website’s content since 2019 claims the page has been hacked.
Beginning Friday, Visit Mexico showed only a traffic cone and the message, “Suspended for non-payment. Excuse us, we are working on it right now. Come back soon.”
By Saturday afternoon the message had been amended to read that the suspension was not a hack.
Until August 2019, the site was administered by the Ministry of Tourism. However, due to the federal government’s austerity policy, which led to the disappearance of the Tourism Promotion Council (CPTM), the firm Braintivity assumed responsibility for managing the site, which is now funded by private business.
In 2019, Visit Mexico president Marcos Achar said the platform would be completely renewed to become a vehicle for the marketing of Mexican destinations. A goal for the site was to attract 55.3 million visitors to Mexico by 2024, which would generate revenues of some US $31.6 billion.
Achar and Carlos González, the site’s general director, posted a statement to Twitter Saturday morning announcing that Visit Mexico had been hacked and they were working on resolving the situation. An investigation is underway and security measures are being taken to protect the site, they said.
Earlier this month, Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco likened the importance of the website and associated tourism campaign to the Pueblos Mágicos, or Magical Towns, program introduced by the government of former president Vicente Fox in 2001 and the Angeles Verdes, or Green Angels, roadside assistance program launched by the Tourism Ministry in 1960.
The website was meant to be a legacy project of the current administration and was set to make its formal debut in August with new promotional campaigns after it was redesigned and relaunched last year.
Tourism is a vital sector of Mexico’s economy that is struggling to rebound from the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In past years, the industry has generated about 8.7% of the country’s gross domestic product, bringing in around US $14.7 billion and providing 4.1 million jobs.
On its website, the Ministry of Tourism announced last night that it “has requested Braintivity to explain the causes of this interruption, which will be announced in due course.”