Especially Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago may want to take a particular look at what has happened to the once renowned, celebrated and highly sought after party destination of Acapulco, Mexico.
Cancun in Mexico, Acapulco in Mexico, Nassau in The Bahamas and Negril in Jamaica have long been among the top spring break destinations. However, a spike in gang violence and drug warfare in recent times have all but demolished Acapulco’s desirability to visitors and real estate owners alike. One example of the crippling effects of crime coming out of Acapulco is that of “Sare Holding (SAREB:MM), Mexico’s fifth-largest publicly traded builder that got 36 percent of its sales from Acapulco in 2010.” Everything has changed for the company:
Sare’s revenue in Acapulco dried up completely in the fourth quarter, dragging the city’s full-year 2011 home sales down 54 percent, to 330.2 million pesos ($26 million), according to the company. Sare’s home sales nationwide plunged 90 percent, in part a result of the violence in Acapulco, it says. As of March 13, Sare’s stock was down 14 percent since the company reported earnings on Feb. 27.
Not Beaches, Peace of Mind
Perhaps the key lesson for Caribbean islands to note is that sustainable tourism is not about selling beaches, tours and hotel rooms. It is about providing peace of mind. Customers are paying above all for a safe, enjoyable and hassle free experience. When that is compromised and tourists no longer believe the destination is safe – as in Acapulco’s case – then business stops.
Acapulco is the largest city in the state of Guerrero.
Homicides in Guerrero rose 44 percent in 2011, to 2,158. In August the state’s monthly tally briefly surpassed Chihuahua’s to make it the most dangerous region in Mexico, data compiled by the Attorney General’s Office shows. Drug-related violence has killed at least 47,500 people in Mexico since December 2006.
The effect has been the destruction of the housing and tourism sector. If this can happen in an established destination like Acapulco – it can happen anywhere else. A word to the wise is sufficient.