Translated by Fulano from an article in Ecos de Rosarito
The drastic drop-off in sales in the tourist sector has started to worry merchants.
Confirmation of the drop in tourism was seen at the end of September, with the reduced number of cyclists participating in the Biannual Rosarito-Ensenada Bike Ride. In prior events, it took 45 minutes to leave the city due to the number of participants. This time around all had left in 15 minutes. In other words, the number of cyclists was only one-third of those who had come for prior rides.
While some have the hope this was just a seasonal drop-off for winter, others think the effects of crime are now hitting the tourist sector.
The president of COTUCO, who is also an artisan and businessman on Boulevard Popotal, said that starting with September, after a travel alert issued by the US Department of State on hte violence in Baja California, there has been a drastic fall-off of foreign tourists. Rafael Crosthwaite, president of the CCE and also a merchant on boulevard Popotal, agrees with him and added that “we are not even making enough to pay our employees.”
“I think the closing of the San Ysidro border had little affect, I believe it is more a matter of the crime, but it would be correct to wait a little more to confirm that. This weekend will be decisive. We are going to see if the crime is now affecting us,” maintained Javier Rodríguez González, a tourist shop operator.
For the art galleries, the last two months have been economically devastating, as with the drop in American tourism, who are their main customers, their sales fell off more than normal.
“Yes, we are way down in sales. We are waiting for a customer to come so we can pay the rent, but the truth is things have been very quiet after Labor Day,” said Leonel Pineda, a tourist whop operator.
The restaurant sector is also suffering from a drop in sales.
Just as with some of the shop keepers at the artisans market, Norma Gutiérrez Espinoza thinks there are various reasons which caused the drop-off.
One of these are the travel alerts issued by the American government to its citizens, which were derived from the various violent events reported in Baja California.
“Our customers tell us that the alerts are everywhere in the United States. This is impacting us greatly. We have seen very low sales since Labor Day. We recovered a little with the Bike Ride, but not like we had expected. The truth is there were very few participants and we do not know if it was the lack of coordination, because is was very expensive, or because people people fear coming to Rosarito due to the travel alerts. People are discouraged and I think the earthquake also had some affect,” bemoaned Norma Gutiérrez.
Tourist hotels have reported they had an increase in tourism this year, up until the end of August, but in September and so far in October, tourism has fallen in comparison to the same months in prior years.