Mexico Spends a Bundle to Woo Back Tourists
Don't be surprised to see billboards, buses and TV ads soon blaring something like: "Hurry Down to Mexico! Sunny beaches, blue waters and really, it's not as dangerous as they say."
The problem with all those gorgeous beaches now of course is, well, they're empty.
Facing a potential precipitous drop in tourism - 80 percent of Mexico's dwindling annual tourists come from the United States - government officials decided to take action, and fast. So they hired two powerhouse Washington public relations firms, Qorvis and APCO, to help spin the country out of its image crisis, what with rampant drug violence and the flu scare gripping the nation, the Sleuth has learned.
After an intense bidding process that began with 16 different public relations firms, Mexico recently signed contracts with APCO and Qorvis worth a total of $1.2 million over one year, with the biggest chunk of the money going to APCO, according sources familiar with the contracts.
As soon as the flu outbreak further stabilizes in Mexico, the epicenter of the global epidemic, the tourism ministry plans a full-throttle effort to announce, in the words of Mexican embassy spokesman Ricardo Alday, "Mexico is out of the woods and we're open for business."
He's optimistic that will be soon, perhaps within as few as 10 days.
The decision to hire savvy spinmeisters was made back in February and it originally centered solely on the out-of-control drug cartel violence - until the swine flu entered the public relations equation. Still, Alday tells us, the long-term focus of the PR strategy will remain on the drug problem. As he put it, "Drug violence might be here to stay a long time. The flu is going to go away."
Alday says his government will know just how bad things are by the end of May, when preliminary economic numbers are due out assessing the impact of the flu on its threatened tourism industry.
Posted by: Fox2step | May 8, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse
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