A leading hotel booking website has revealed a sharp increase in interest in travel to Mexico, as the country struggles to rebuild its reputation after an escalation in drug-related violence.
Earlier this year, US college students were warned against spending their annual spring break in Mexico, a sign of how serious authorities in some states believed the situation has become.
But it seems that not all travelers are being discouraged by the headlines resulting from Felipe Calderon's war on drugs, launched in 2006, which has prompted a surge in violent incidents as the army struggles to crush the country's drugs cartels.
Expedia revealed last week that travel bookings made to Mexico from its portfolio of global brands, which includes the Expedia and Hotels.com websites, were up nearly 25 percent in the last 12 months.
The majority of the interest was from the US, Canada and the UK, said Expedia, which described the country as one of its top three destinations in terms of traveler feedback.
The online giant made its comments at Acapulco's Tianguis Turistico (March 25-28), an annual event organized by Mexican tourism officials to boost the country's profile as a top Latin American tourism destination, where Mexico's Tourism Secretary Gloria Guevara Manzo said March 24 that the country had "made real and sustained progress in making Mexico safe and secure."
Ahead of the conference, financial giant Visa also noted that the amount spent on its cards by inbound visitors had gone up from $4 billion in 2009 to $4.4 billion in 2010, describing Mexico as a "sought after destination."
No surprise then, that country's beautiful beaches and rich cultural heritage are continuing to attract hotel chains, who are betting on an eventual end to the drug wars - at which point they believe the country is set to be a lucrative destination, thanks to its excellent location in the Americas.
Later this year, Sol Melia will open two flagship resorts, Paradisus La Esmeralda and Paradisus La Perla, both on the country's stunning eastern Caribbean coastline.
Last month, Ritz-Carlton announced that it will open a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Los Cabos, a 124-villa complex with views across the Sea of Cortez and private infinity pools, butler service and outdoor fireplaces.
Top inbound tourist markets to Mexico
Based on Visa Payment Card transactions
1. United States
5. United Kingdom