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Mexico Tourism Board &

the Outbreak of H1N1:


A $92 Million Crisis

Korinne Leonardis, Nicole Parker,


Laura Reginelli & Adrienne Spector
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Table of Contents

Abstract…………………………………………………………………………………

…....3

Intro…………………………………………………...

…………………………………...3-5

The Mexico Tourism Board………………………...

……………………………...3-4

Economic

Importance…………………………………………………………………..4-5

The History of H1N1………………………………..

……………………………......5

Mexico Tourism Suffers…………………………………….

…………………………..…6-7

The Financial Implications of H1N1…..………………….

………………………………7-8

The Swine Flu Media Blitz…………………………….……………………………..

……8-9

The Timeline………………………………………………………...

……………………...10

The Campaign……..…………………………………………….…………..

………….11-12

Concluding

Statements…………………………………………………………………….12
4

Appendices………………………………………………………………………….

…..13-20

Works

Cited……………………………………………………………………………..21-25
5

Abstract

In light of the hazardous health situation in Mexico, the United


States Department of State alerted citizens on April 28, 2009 of health
risks due to the outbreak of the H1N1 virus. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention recommended that all American citizens avoid
non-essential travel to Mexico until further notice. As a result, Mexico
became a less appealing travel destination. By May 1, 2009, only three
days after these statements were issued, Mexican hotels and resorts
began to experience enormous drops in occupancy rates. American
airlines with flights to Mexico and various cruise lines with stops in the
country dropped nearly half of their passengers or had to suspend or
completely cancel trips all together. Due to such low rates of tourist
travel to Mexico, over 25 hotels temporarily closed down and offered
some other guarantees and incentives in an attempt to hold onto their
customers. In comparison to numbers in 2008, in conjunction with bad
press and travel bans, Mexico experienced an 11 percent decline in
U.S. visitors during this time. Since tourism is the third largest source
of revenue for the country, the decline created an immense problem
for the Mexico Tourism Board (MTB). In an effort to reestablish
Mexico’s appeal as a tourist destination, the MTB developed a $92
million marketing campaign to restore the country’s appeal as a tourist
destination across 12 U.S. markets and six markets in Canada. This
case study examines the success of the campaign and its effort to
restore Mexico’s image after an international health crisis.

Introduction

Mexico, The Mexico Tourism Board

The Mexico Tourism Board (MTB), also referred to as the Consejo


de Promocion Turistica de Mexico (CPTM), promotes six tourist regions
with nearly 40 tourist destinations, to travelers from all over the world.
Founded in 1999, the MTB was developed as a sector of Mexico’s
Tourism Secretariat. The MTB is the entity, which carries the
responsibility of promoting the country of Mexico, positioning its
regions as appealing destinations and highlighting its cultural
attractions of the country to its publics across the globe. The MTB’s
mission is to spread “the promotion, both integrally and competitively,
of Mexico, its products and destinations, in domestic and international
markets, by means of joint efforts involving all stakeholders in
tourism.”1 According to the Board’s vision they consistently seek to
ensure that they are “a leading organization in the promotion of
tourism, encouraging participation and joint efforts by the various
stakeholders in the industry.”1
6

The MTB oversees all aspects of public relations, marketing,


advertising and promotions through its various functions assigned to
the organization. According to the MTB’s official website these
functions include2:

• To help design plans, programs, strategies and priorities for tourist


promotion
• To provide tourist information specialized for both national and
foreign tourists
• To obtain complementary, economic, technical and material
resources, for the development of its objectives
• To stimulate the participation of the public and all tourist activities
that promote the attractiveness and services of the country
• To create agreements with the governments of the Federal
Organizations and Municipalities, with state and municipal mixed
organisms, and with the private sector (national and foreign), with
the purpose of orchestrating campaigns of tourist promotion
• To celebrate agreements of tourist cooperation with governmental
organs and international organizations in order to promote tourist
to the country
• To make works and studies of market relative to the fulfillment of
its objectives

The company is considered a government agency in the Leisure,


Travel and Tourism Industry and is composed of fewer than 500
employees with offices in Europe, Asia and Latin American, and nine in
North America.3 The MTB employees are divided among four different
divisions within the organization. These divisions include:
Administrative (74% of employees), Sales and Marketing (14% of
employees), Research Development (3% of employees) and Executive
Leadership (9% of employees).4 Within the executive leadership
division for North America resides the following employees:

United States and Canada (North American) MTB Team5:

• Oscar Fitch, Former Chief Operating Officer at time of crisis


• Gloria Guevara Mazno, Current Chief Operating Officer and
current Secretary of Tourism
• Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, Chief Operating Officer
• Gabriela Ibarra, Deputy Director Northeast
• Clara Torres Márquez, Deputy Director of Public Relations for
North America
• Eduardo Chaillo Ortiz, Executive Director Meeting Industry
• Rodrigo Esponda Cascajares, Chicago Director
• Octavio Aguilar, Houston Director
7

• Jorge Gamboa Patrón, Los Angeles Director


• José Barquin, Miami Director
• Guillermo Eguiartem, Toronto Director
• Daniel Gutierrez Aguirre, Vancouver Director
• Amado Manuel Montelongo, Montreal Director

Economic Importance

Tourism is Mexico’s third largest source of economic revenue,


with the United States and Canada as the main publics for travel to the
country’s tourist destinations.6 According to the tourism ministry, in
2008, Mexico had 22.6 million foreign tourists and an accumulated
sum of $13.3 billion in tourism revenue.7 Destinations such as Cancun
and Acapulco were on the rise as hotspots for college spring breakers,
but after the announcement of the outbreak of the H1N1 virus in
Mexico and the various travel warnings in response, Mexico
experienced the following declines regarding tourism:
• 32 percent decline in total international tourists
• 54 percent decline in international spending during May 2009
It was apparent that tourism and its important role in the revenue of
the Mexican economy were in trouble.

The History of H1N1

In 2009, a new strand of influenza that would claim over 17,000


lives globally, took the world by storm.8 This new flu virus was named
H1N1. Believed to have originated in pigs, the disease quickly became
known as “swine flu.” However, after further research it was
determined H1N1 did not begin as an animal virus.9 First reported in
Southern California in March 2009, doctors were unsure of what they
had encountered and the virus went on to claim its first life in Oaxaca,
Mexico on April 13, 2009.10

At first glance, H1N1 was easily mistaken for the regular flu
virus. The virus is spread from one individual to the next through
coughing, sneezing and “touching infected objects and then touching
your nose or mouth.”8 The symptoms of the virus can range from
coughing and chills to nausea, vomiting, fever and head and body
aches. Ultimately, the disease covered a significant amount of ground
by spreading from one person to the next through bodily contact.11
Those that were at highest risk included young children, pregnant
women and older individuals with frail immune systems. Unlike the
common flu virus, most people had little to no immunity to H1N1 due
to a lack of familiar antibodies. This led to a heightened increase in
8

fatalities12 as the disease spread rapidly, with the majority of deaths in


North America; predominately in Mexico.7

Since the virus was a new strand of the flu, preparation to fight
back was nonexistent when the disease started to spread. Mexico, the
origin of the virus, reacted by taking numerous measures including the
closure of schools, the disbursement of sanitizer and face masks and
the discouragement of “large public gatherings.”13 The MTB went on to
release tips and updates about the spread of H1N1 and how the
government was reacting (See Appendix C). Over the span of the five
months following the first death related to H1N1, the United States,
along with several other nations, worked to create a vaccination to
help put an end to the spread of the virus.

The FDA approved four types of vaccinations in September 2009


to combat H1N1. These vaccinations were single-dose and available for
healthy children and adults. It is noted that children under the age of
nine needed to receive two vaccination shots rather than one.14 The
vaccinations were available in several different forms including an oral
application and a nasal spray.15 H1N1 ultimately would claim almost
18,000 lives worldwide and 1,185 within Mexico itself.10 As the disease
claimed more lives, it also began to affect various sectors of Mexico’s
market, especially tourism.

Mexico Tourism Suffers Extensive Damage

With tourism already on the decline from the recession and drug
related violence, H1N1 only furthered the damage by creating yet
another reason to halt travel to Mexico. In the face of this pandemic,
the U.S. Embassy in Mexico was forced to issue a travel alert (See
Appendix B). With the addition of the hazardous health conditions
created by the H1N1 virus, accompanied by extensive media coverage
and U.S. travel alerts, Mexican hotel chains began to experience a
decrease in occupancy rates like never before. In an interview with The
Washington Post, Monica Roberts, Director of Corporate
Communications for Real Resorts, a hotel chain with locations in
Cancun and The Rivera Maya, said that they were currently at 20
percent occupancy rates when they should be filled to 90 percent
capacity.16

Airlines began cancelling flights rapidly for the same low


occupancy problems. Continental Airlines slashed capacity on Mexico
routes by half, saying that, “the demand was already soft before the
flu outbreak and dropped sharply on the news.”17 Smith Travel
Research Inc., one of the leading hotel industry watchers, conducted
9

preliminary research and found that many airline companies and tour
operators were nearly slashing prices in half or giving out
extraordinary deals in order to boost tourism back to the resorts with
which they partnered.18

In addition to the financial decline that many hotels and airlines


experienced during the scare, nearly a month later, online travel
companies were still reporting that Mexico flight, cruise and hotel
packages had dropped by 50 percent.19 In 2009, Expedia.com offered
flights from New Jersey to Mexico City for $285 for a round-trip ticket,
compared with $498 per round trip ticket in 2008.20 While this gave
travelers some of the best deals they could snatch up in years, no one
was taking advantage of it; the beautiful beaches of Mexico remained
bare of tourists. According to Cynthia Martinez, spokeswoman for Royal
Caribbean Cruises, “it is not necessarily the risk to the passengers. It’s
more about whether our guests feel comfortable visiting Mexico.”21

Resort closures were a major problem during this period. As


travel to Mexico decreased, over 25 resorts temporarily shut down or
closed to avoid incurring negative operational costs.22 Iberostar Hotels
& Resorts, an internationally renowned resort chain with hotels in
various tourism spots in Mexico, was one of the hotels to make this
decision. According to a written statement from a travel site, Iberostar
felt it was necessary to close down some of their Mexican hotels to
maintain the “high level of service that Iberostar is known for.”
Iberostar management worked to relocate their current and upcoming
guests to other nearby Iberostar properties that were operating
throughout the H1N1 scare.23 Other hotels experienced similar
monetary issues. The lack of tourism nearly devastated over 300,000
families in just Cancun and Rivera Maya alone who depended upon
tourism to put food on the table.24

On the other hand, a select few resorts took an alternative


approach. Karisma Hotels & Resorts, a chain of eight hotels along the
coast of the Rivera Maya, were so certain in the health safety of their
hotel that they promoted “flu-free guarantees.” Mandy Chomat, Vice
President of Marketing at Karisma, said that in the event any guest
contracted the H1N1 virus or felt sick during their stay through the
month of June, they would pay for their doctor’s visits and give them
the next three vacations for free at their hotel.25

On May 17, 2009, Formula PR on behalf of the Karisma hotel


chain issued and posted a press release on the Karisma website
publicizing the CDC’s removal of the original warning against non-
essential travel to Mexico and promoting their new guarantee (See
10

Appendix A). The release encouraged current guests and future clients
to move forward and consider the true climate in Mexico. They gave
reassurance through their statement, “beyond our contentment owing
to further confirmation of the wellbeing and health of our guests and
employees, we are very pleased to see the CDC consider the actual
situation.”

Financial Implications of H1N1

The aftermath of H1N1 and its impact on Mexico left the


economy battered and in dire need of improvement. The outbreak of
the virus came at an inopportune time during the middle of a global
recession. During the outbreak, it was relatively well known that the
financial implications of the virus would be serious, but not debilitating.
According to the Wachovia Economics Group, the three main areas
that they predicted would be most affected monetarily by the swine flu
included the agriculture industry, travel and tourism and the domestic
demand of Mexico. During this time, there was an increasing worry
that demand within Mexico itself would fall drastically due to the
closures within both businesses and schools across the nation.

As for tourism, in 2008, the industry accounted for around 8


percent of Mexico’s economy or $13 billion in revenue.26 Tourism
within Mexico is considered the “third-largest source of foreign
currency behind oil exports and migrant worker remittances” and is
seen as a main driver in the country’s economy. During April 2009,
Mexico predicted that the economy would ultimately contract by 2.8
percent over the course of the year due to all the troubles the nation
would face.27 Throughout the H1N1 outbreak, it was estimated that
GDP would drop by 0.3 to 0.5 percent in total just due to a drop in
tourism.

Percentages of rooms rented in hotels during the outbreak


dropped sharply, causing revenue to fall even further. Mexico City
reported that it was losing roughly $10 million per day as hotel
occupancy slipped to around 10 percent during the crisis. In turn,
hotels and tourism companies drastically reduced rates 50 to 70
percent in an attempt to attract or retain vacation-goers.23

Publicly held companies’ experienced serious declines in their


value and stock prices during 2009. During this time stocks for airlines
and travel-oriented businesses fell “as much as 13 percent” due to a
number of cancellations and rising concerns amongst potential
travelers and customers.28
11

Mexico’s national currency, the peso, was also hit hard by H1N1.
As displayed in Appendix E, the outbreak of H1N1 caused the peso to
dramatically weaken in value. Prior to the outbreak, the global
recession caused the peso’s condition to worsen.
“The currency, which has plunged 32 percent in the six months
through March 9 as Latin America’s second-largest economy
slipped into a recession and drug violence increased, surged 12
percent in the six weeks before the government first reported
the swine flue cases on April 23.”29
Despite the peso regaining some of its strength during those six
months, it fell 5.1 percent on April 27, 2009 alone. In an attempt to
stabilize the currency, Mexico’s central bank implemented a policy of
buying up pesos to lessen the harsh effects. The International
Monetary Fund (IMF) even went as far extending Mexico a credit line of
$47 billion to assist the nation with its tumultuous economy.30

While the financial effects of H1N1 were not paralyzing to the


Mexican economy, they still left a recognizable dent in a nation
attempting to recover from the global recession. It was evident that
H1N1 caused problems for Mexico’s economy that could not be
overlooked.

The Swine Flu Media Blitz

The initial media attention given to the detection of the novel


influenza was primarily focused on the health and well being of people.
Since health crises can potentially affect humans from any part of the
world, heavy emphasis in quoting sources generally rely on scientists
and health professionals in the two organizations: The Centers for
Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Both
of these organizations were major players and publics in the American
media’s attention of the swine flu outbreak. During the time of the
initial knowledge of outbreak, directors from these two organizations
were quoted and within days numerous articles were published,
making note of the tourism and economic effects Mexico faced in the
wake of the health crisis.

The initial discovery of the outbreak sparked speculation from


the media as to the severity of the new strain of influenza.31 Reporters
mentioned that travel advisories were not instructing travelers to
refrain from visiting areas where the disease was actively spreading.
Before the WHO declared H1N1 a pandemic, many reporters stated
that the CDC released information urging the public to take normal
health precautions when traveling to Mexico or other affected areas.32
12

Because of its proximity to the Mexican border, local news


reports advised residents in the San Diego, CA area to be aware of flu-
like symptoms and to stay indoors until a physician was able to
diagnose the illness. The reports included current information about
the origin of H1N1, typical symptoms and possible vaccinations. Local
reports also mentioned local H1N1 cases and what doctors and
hospitals were doing to contain the possible spread to others.33

A source from Mexico’s Central Bank said that the tourism


industry in Mexico has already seen a backlash from the outbreak. In
turn, Reuters explained “many groups of foreign tourists and students
on Wednesday left the country earlier than planned.”34 Reporters from
The New York Times informed readers that the U.S. declared a public
health emergency over the recent detection and spreading of swine
flu, but the declaration was more of a “standard operating procedure”
according to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The article
stated, “Other nations imposed travel bans or made plans to
quarantine air travelers” as more confirmed cases emerged in Mexico
and North America.35

An article pertaining to the hospitality industry was released via


the Internet addressing industry professionals about the current effects
of the swine flu in tourist spots around Mexico. The nation’s capital,
Mexico City, was described as a ghost town where businesses shut
down operations during the initial discovery of the outbreak. One hotel
source reported, “Tourism in Mexico dropped by 20% in the last
weekend of April according to the Mexico City Hotel Association.” The
hospitality newsletter briefly addressed the negative financial effects
felt by hotels as a result of the stocks slumping in “reaction to the
swine flu.”36

By the sixth official day of swine flu media blitz, The Washington
Post reported that tourism in Mexico, the “biggest money maker after
oil and remittances from abroad,” already had experienced damaging
financial effects. Reports of significantly lower hotel occupancy and, in
efforts to contain the virus, temporary closings of businesses, resulted
in more than “$1 billion in lost revenue since the outbreak began,”
according to the estimate of business associations in Mexico.37

The following timeline illustrates main events in this case, as a prelude


to our discussion of the response of the Mexico Tourism Board.
13
2008
• Mexico earned $13.3 Billion dollars in tourism Timeline
revenue
• Tourism employs 2 million people
• Accounts for 8% of the total economy
January 2009
• Numbers of foreign tourists to Mexico continuously dropping
because of the declining global economy and the press
reports of increasing drug violence
February 2009
• The U.S. State Department issues a travel alert
of increased drug cartel violence in Mexico March 18, 2009
(referred to in Appendix B)
• First report of the Swine Flu virus in Mexico

April 13, 2009


• H1N1 claims first victim in Mexico
April 24, 2009
• Mexico President, Felipe Caldera meets with The Council
for General Hygiene to come up with following precautions
for Mexican citizens:
April 25, 2009 o Disseminate education messages about the flu
• Margaret Chan, Director of the WHO, calls the o Distribute masks and hand sanitizer to the public
current situation in Mexico a “public health o Discourage large public gatherings
emergency for international concern.” • See Appendix D for more information on what happened

April 27, 2009


April 28, 2009 • WHO raises the influenza pandemic alert level from 3 to 4
• “ The Department of State alerts US citizens of
the health risks of travel to Mexico at this time
due to an outbreak of H1N1 “swine flu.” The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention April 29, 2009
(CDC) has issued a notice recommending that • WHO raises the influenza pandemic alert level from 4 to 5
American citizens avoid all nonessential travel to (highest health alert possible)
Mexico at this time."

April 30, 2009 May 1, 2009


• Swine flu now deemed ‘Influenza A or H1N1’ • Mexico tourism industry has been hit hard by dropping
tourism rates especially from the US.
o Hotel occupancy rates dropping to 20%
o Airlines slashing prices and passenger rates by
May 5, 2009 50%
• Mexico Tourism Board plans to form an o Cruise ship cancelations
evaluation committee to monitor the impact of
H1N1 on the tourism profit sector
May 8, 2009
• Hotels being to react
May 15, 2009 o Resorts temporarily close
o Resorts move customers to other hotels
• The US Centers for Disease Control downgrades
it’s warning against non-essential travel to o Resorts offer ‘Flu-Free Guarantees’
Mexico

May 26, 2009


• Mexico Tourism Board said they believe the tourism
June 18, 2009
business will recover by the end of the year.
• Mexico implements campaign
• Prices in all travel related to Mexico has dropped
significantly
• There is initial talk of a campaign to bring tourism rates back
up
14

The Response Campaign

With the outbreak of H1N1 taking a toll on the country from all
angles, the MTB decided to temporarily freeze all current public
relations activities and tactics for a four-week period and then begin to
rebuild their image of tourism.38 In the meantime, prior to the
campaign being launched, the Secretary of Tourism, Rodolfo Eli Zondo
released the following statement: “we have launched a communication
strategy in order to keep the industry and tourists in the country
informed on preventive measures” (See Appendix D). After the U.S.
State Department and the CDC lifted their alerts on nonessential travel
to Mexico, the MTB announced that it would invest $92 million in a
“Vive Mexico,” tourism campaign one week later.39

The campaign was launched with four main objectives:


• Ensure tourisms return to normal level as soon as possible
• Look after the Mexican families who relied on tourism
• Stimulate employment
• Seize all opportunities for recovery and progress

According to a statement by President Felipe Calderon, under the


advisement of the MTB, the campaign drew together, “the arts,
business, sports and cultural sectors, as well as distinguished high
profile individuals to promote Mexico as a popular holiday destination,
full of life and with unequal tourism offering.”40

The campaign focused on 12 markets in the U.S. and six in


Canada and featured exclusive prices and striking offers to motivate
growth in the tourism market.41 & 42 It included a three-phase
multimedia promotion featuring the “Believe It” series that addressed
the Swine Flu and applauded Mexico’s quick response to the crisis. The
second phase, titled, “Welcome Back,” was intended to remind tourists
of the beauties and great travel opportunities that Mexico offers. The
final phase, “ Mexico, It’s Time to Go,” attracted travelers with
incredible package deals for travel that were too cheap to pass up.36
The CEO of the MTB, Oscar Fitch, said that this campaign “proved yet
again that we (The Mexico Tourism Board) are resilient to crisis.” In
addition to the campaign, AeroMexico partnered with the MTB through
a “collaborative marketing initiative” to promote travel to the U.S. from
countries in North America, including the U.S. and Canada.43

In order to garner attention for the campaign, a new website,


www.ofertasvivemexico.com, was created to showcase new travel
deals available at Mexican resorts while simultaneously promoting the
Vive Campaign. Other tactics used included celebrity endorsement by
15

athletes, actors and other public figures. These tactics helped to


increase the publicity of the campaign by word of mouth,
advertisement appearances and testimonials. President Felipe
Calderon of Mexico supported the campaign by saying:
“We must tell everyone that we are a strong country, with unity
and a unique identify and despite the trials we have undergone,
particularly recently, Mexico is united and pulling through.”44

As of October 2010, the MTB announced that “in the first eight
months of 2010, 4.33 million American travelers arrived in Mexico, a
15.7 percent increase in respect to the same period in 2009 and a 1.9
percent increase over 2008.”45 With time and the effort of the MTB to
improve Mexico’s reputation as an attractive tourist destination,
tourists have started to disassociate the past health crisis with the
overall view of Mexico. Mexico is still experiencing the repercussions of
lower tourist rates in the face of the recent drug wars.

In the face of these crises, the Mexico Tourism Board has not
stopped its efforts to win back tourists. The MTB teamed up with
Travelocity to create an online “Travelocity/Mexico Hide and Seek”
Facebook contest, giving their fans a chance to win one of eight prize
vacations to Mexico (See Appendix F). The sweepstakes began
November 1, 2010 and continued through November 17, 2010.

Wrap Up Needed!!!
16

Appendices

Appendix A

• Press Release from Karisma Hotels & Resorts published on May


17, 2009 by Jennifer Myers of Formula PR

Center for Disease Control removes its original warning recommending


against nonessential travel to Mexico.

CDC has been monitoring the ongoing outbreak of novel H1N1 flu in
Mexico and, with the assistance of the Mexican authorities, has
obtained a more complete picture of the outbreak.

We are encouraged by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention


(CDC)’s May 15th decision to remove its original warning
recommending against nonessential travel to Mexico.

According to the official statement, “At this time, CDC has removed its
recommendation that U.S. travelers avoid travel to Mexico. CDC has
been monitoring the ongoing outbreak of novel H1N1 flu in Mexico and,
with the assistance of the Mexican authorities, has obtained a more
complete picture of the outbreak.”

Beyond our contentment owing to further confirmation of the wellbeing


and health of our guests and employees, we are very pleased to see
the CDC consider the actual situation.
In reality, H1N1 has touched only .0018 percent of Mexico’s
population, equating to one out of every 54,012 people. Even in the
U.S. where 36,000 Americans fall victim to the common flu each year,
H1N1 pales in comparison, taking three lives and infecting only .0008
percent of the population or one out of every 118,158 people.

Despite these telling facts, rampant media reports have inflated fears
about H1N1 over the past few weeks, devastating tourism in Mexico.
In Cancun and Riviera Maya alone, one million local residents depend
on tourism to survive, represented by more than 300,000 family
providers employed by the hotels and other industry sectors.

As we move forward, we ask you to consider the CDC’s current


guidance and the true climate in Mexico, where residents are suffering
in the wake of H1N1.

El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels and Azul Hotels by Karisma are
operating normally, and we invite guests to continue with plans to
vacation here or to book future trips to experience our warm weather,
17

stunning beaches, rich culture, relaxing environment and welcoming


communities.

El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels and Azul Hotels are recipients of the
Cristal award by Check Safety First, acknowledging the properties as
abiding by the highest health and safety standards. Despite the lifted
ban, we are still employing extra measures to ensure the wellbeing of
our guests and employees, including using Iodum to disinfect glasses
for everyday housekeeping service and Chlorine on any surface that
could be touched including faucets, toilet and seats, and strategically
placing antibacterial gel throughout the properties.

Offering guests the ultimate assurance, we have also implemented a


“Flu-Free Guarantee,” where any guest that contracts H1N1 at our
properties will receive their next three vacations free. For stays
booked between May 8 and June 30, 2009 for travel taking place
between now and October 31st, 2009, the ‘Flu-Free Guarantee’
signifies our certainty that Mexico is a safe and healthy destination.

Please direct any media inquiries regarding this matter to


Jennifer Myres at 619-234-0345 or myres@formulapr.com.
18

Appendix B

• Press release from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico

PRESS RELEASES 09
State Department Issues Updated Travel Alert
Mexico City, February 20, 2009 - While millions of U.S. citizens safely
visit Mexico each year, drug cartel-related violence in the country has
increased recently. To reflect this, the State Department Travel Alert
for Mexico has been updated with more specific information on
concerns in the border area. It is imperative that travelers understand
how best to avoid dangerous situations and whom to contact if one
becomes a crime victim. Our aim is to provide U.S. travelers with
information to help them make informed plans.

The Travel Alert for Mexico issued today is updated to reflect evolving
conditions in Mexico; in particular, increasing levels of violence along
the U.S.-Mexico border. These conditions are widely known and
reported on in Mexico, as well as in the U.S. border region, but many
tourists and business people are less aware. U.S. citizens are urged to
be alert to safety and security concerns, especially in the border
region, where some recent confrontations between Mexican authorities
and drug cartels have seen the cartels employ automatic weapons and
grenades. Homicide, petty theft, and carjackings have all increased
over the last year. We urge travelers to use common sense
precautions, such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas
during daylight hours, and avoiding areas where crime is likely to
occur. To read this updated Travel Alert, see:
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_3028.html.

The State Department publishes three kinds of travel information:


country-specific information, travel alerts, and travel warnings.
Country-specific information is available for every country in the world
and includes such data as the location of the U.S. embassy and/or
consulate(s), immigration practices, health conditions, and crime and
security information. Travel alerts disseminate information about short-
term or changing conditions within a particular country that pose
imminent risks to the security of U.S. citizens. They are generally
updated or revised every six months. Travel warnings describe long-
term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or
unstable. For more information, see http://travel.state.gov.
19

Appendix C

• Informational release put out by the Mexico Tourism Board


including the problem and what Mexico is doing in response to it
20

Appendix D
21
22

Appendix E

• Graph showing the Mexican Peso vs. the U.S. Dollar and the
changes over the past year. Notice the dramatic decline
between January and May of 2009, during which time the
H1N1 virus broke out.

Source: Yahoo Finance


As a result of the H1N1 outbreak,
the Mexican peso plunged
23

Appendix F

November 01, 2010 09:12 PM Eastern Time


Mexico Tourism Board and Travelocity to Give Away Eight
Vacation Prizes to Popular Mexico Tourism Destinations

MIAMI--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Mexico Tourism Board (MTB) and


Travelocity have teamed up to offer their Facebook fans a chance to
win one of eight Mexico vacation prizes that will be given away through
“Travelocity/Mexico Hide & Seek,” an online Facebook sweepstakes.

The contest, taking place between Nov. 1, 2010 and Nov. 17, 2010, will
follow the Travelocity Roaming Gnome® as he hides in seven popular
Mexico destinations. To participate, contestants must “like” the Mexico
Tourism Board’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wevisitmexico
and the Travelocity Facebook page at
http://www.facebook.com/travelocity .

“With nearly eight million visitors from the U.S. reaching Mexico by air
in 2009 and many of them choosing to use Travelocity to book their
trips, the Mexico Tourism Board is pleased to be working with
Travelocity to offer travelers a chance to win one of these fantastic
vacation opportunities,” said Steve Austin, Chief Marketing Officer of
the Mexico Tourism Board.

“Mexico is one of the most popular destinations with our customers, so


we are extremely excited about this contest,” said Noreen Henry,
Senior Vice President Global Partner Services, Travelocity. “We have a
strong relationship with the Mexico Tourism Board and this contest is
definitely a great way to use social media to showcase the unique
aspects of the destination.”

Every two days, in an application appearing on both Facebook pages,


the Roaming Gnome will post a photo of himself in a Mexico location,
along with a clue as to his whereabouts. Fans will have 48 hours to
guess where the Roaming Gnome is hiding before his location is
revealed at 9:00 a.m. PT two days later. Any entrant who guessed the
Roaming Gnome’s location correctly will be entered into a drawing for
a chance to win a three-night premier hotel stay in the revealed
location and winners will be notified immediately by e-mail.

At the end of the contest, all participants --- regardless of whether or


not they correctly guessed any locations --- will be entered into a
drawing to win the grand prize: two roundtrip business class tickets to
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on Aeromexico, from any of their United
States or Canadian gateway cities and five-night accommodations for
24

two at the all-inclusive Melia Cabo Real in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Mexico is one of the world’s leading tourist destinations ranking tenth


worldwide in international tourist arrivals and the most popular
international tourism for Americans.
25

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