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Two of the ferries operated by Barcos Caribe. Two of the ferries operated by Barcos Caribe.

Occupancy rates high but many are worried

Tourism secretary tells Berlin trade fair all is well in Quintana Roo

Quintana Roo’s tourism secretary painted a rosy picture of the current state of the industry at a trade fair in Germany this week, but hotel operators back home are worried.

Marisol Venegas Pérez said at the ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade fair, that occupancy rates are currently at 80%, meaning that close to 230,000 tourists are sleeping every night in one of the more than 100,000 available hotel rooms.

Venegas said Quintana Roo offers “the best and most competitive product” and that the government of Governor Carlos Joaquín González will continue to create “trust and certainty” for the tourism industry.

But the industry is still reeling after an explosion aboard a passenger ferry in Playa del Carmen and the discovery of explosive devices attached to the hull of a second vessel.

Those incidents triggered international travel alerts warning against using passenger ferries in the state.

But a scarcity of information regarding them is another cause for concern.

Hoteliers have urged state authorities to issue an official statement explaining the causes of the explosion in order to avoid “panic and speculation.”

The consequences of not doing so, they warned, could translate into across-the-board drops in tourism figures in the next two to three months.

“Not only could the hotel sector be affected,” said the president of the Hotel Association of Cozumel. “We’ve spoken with restaurateurs and business owners in general . . . and all have the same opinion: allow the investigations to follow their due course and determine what really happened.”

“We have to send a message that Cozumel is a safe place . . . that people continue to visit Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel and walk their streets,” Marcos Rojas told the newspaper Reforma.

Sending a convincing message will be difficult given that both the U.S. and Canada issued a travel alert this week regarding Playa del Carmen due to a possible “security threat.”

The U.S. has prohibited its employees from traveling to the city and closed its consulate until further notice. But it has not released any further information about the threat, other than the fact that it was not directly related to the incidents involving the ferries.

Nor has it shared any information with the Quintana Roo government. “We do not know why the U.S. government decided to emit this alert,” it said in a statement.

The travel alert came just as Playa del Carmen was hosting an international conference on the world’s oceans. President Enrique Peña Nieto spoke yesterday at the World Ocean Summit, which attracted more than 500 international leaders from the private sector, civil society and government.

Source: Reforma (sp), Milenio (sp)

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