The summit was intended to discuss strategies to deal with sargassum at the international level. The summit was intended to discuss strategies to deal with sargassum at the international level.

Sargassum summit off after only 6 of 18 countries confirm attendance

Not even free accommodation and meals was enough to entice other countries faced with sargassum scourge

An international summit to discuss strategies to combat sargassum that was scheduled to take place tomorrow in Cancún, Quintana Roo, has been postponed because only six of 18 countries that were invited confirmed their attendance.

Planning for the federal government-sanctioned Caribbean sargassum summit began months ago, and invitations were extended to government officials, members of the tourism sector and international sargassum experts.

The Quintana Roo government said the event was postponed because state elections will be held this Sunday but off the record, officials explained that the real reason was the poor attendance.

Earlier this month, the president of the Cancún and Puerto Morelos Hotels Association, Roberto Cintrón, acknowledged that “unfortunately, there are very few countries that have confirmed.”

Among those that did commit to attending were representatives from the United States, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Barbados, according to media reports.

Even the provision of free accommodation and meals for summit attendees proved to be insufficient incentive.

The CEO of Grupo Palace Resorts, whose Moon Palace property was to host the summit, said he hoped that the event will be held within a month.

José Chapur Zahoul also claimed that the state elections were the reason why the meeting was postponed.

Sargassum, a brown-colored seaweed that reeks when it decomposes, is predicted to wash up en masse on Mexico’s Caribbean coast beaches this year.

Authorities have installed floating sargassum barriers along part of the Quintana Roo coastline to stop the macroalgae from reaching the shoreline and are also using boats to collect it while it’s still in the sea.

But no anti-sargassum strategy is 100% foolproof.

On the weekend, more than 400 volunteers joined government officials and collected 48 tonnes of sargassum on the beaches of Cancún, Tulum, Mahahual and Xcalak.

Tourism could fall by as much as 30% at Quintana Roo coastal destinations this year due to the invasion of sargassum, the federal government said this month, while Governor Carlos Joaquín González has predicted that the state will need 800 million pesos to combat the seaweed.

Source: Reportur (sp) 

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