Fri | Dec 14, 2018

Tourism slumps in Mexico border city since caravan arrival

Published:Friday | December 7, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Members of a migrant caravan stand on a road after federal police briefly blocked their way outside the town of Arriaga, Mexico, on October 27, 2018. AP

Tour operators and medical and dental offices in the Mexican border city of Tijuana are reporting a slowdown in business since a caravan of Central American migrants arrived.

Tourists and visitors have been cancelling planned trips to the Mexican state of Baja California since the border crossing shut down briefly a week ago, and according to tour-friendly business owners, many fear getting trapped in Mexico should the crossing close again, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Sunday.

Antonio Gamboa, who owns a well-known food truck park, said business has slumped 30 per cent.

"It's very disappointing because everything is normal in Tijuana, and it's a very isolated area where the migrants are," he said.

Thousands of migrants, mostly Hondurans, have joined caravans in recent weeks in an effort to speed across Mexico to request refuge in the United States. The border crossing - which Tijuana residents use to reach jobs and shopping on the United States side and US tourists use to head south - was closed briefly last weekend after some migrants tried to rush across.

About 6,000 migrants were staying in an overcrowded shelter that authorities closed over the weekend, moving people instead to a former concert venue further from the border. Dozens of migrants interviewed by The Associated Press have said they are fleeing poverty and violence back home.

The Rosarito Beach Hotel, which hosts many American tourists, has seen business drop 60 per cent, said owner Hugo Torres. And members of the Tijuana medical association are offering discounts and benefits for local and US patients to try to make up for lost business.

Georgina Carabarin, a prosthodontist in Tijuana, said about 70 per cent of her patients come from San Diego.

"Right now, we're hoping everything goes back to normal," she said. "On the news, they keep saying there are more people coming, so some patients are saying, let's wait for the situation to cool down and then we'll set up another appointment later."

- AP