Bureau expects slower Mexico tourism - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

Bureau expects slower Mexico tourism

Then it will pick up, Garcia tells chamber

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Posted: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:09 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Tourism from Mexico "will come a little bit down" in 2010 with the passage and implementation of SB 1070, according to a Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau official.

"People from Mexico will stop coming," said Felipe Garcia, "until they go to their local stores and see their prices."

In time, he believes, resistance from Mexico will fade.

"It will prevent a few people from coming, it's a perception issue, but in the long term it will become understood that SB 1070 has nothing to do with tourism," Garcia said.

Garcia, vice president of community affairs and Mexico marketing, addressed the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce in June.

He said Mexican tourists make up the largest percent of Tucson visitors, averaging 25 million visitors per year. "Legal visitors by the way," Garcia clarified. "They have a visa and passport."

"People come, spend money, pay taxes, and then they leave," said Garcia. "Most importantly, tourism creates wealth."

The MTCVB program "Vamos a Tucson" targets tourists from Mexico, who unlike American tourists, come for the "unnatural Arizona, with shopping and spas."

SB 1070, the Arizona law which takes effect July 29, gives local law enforcement increased authority to determine legal status. Immediately after SB 1070 was passed, MTCVB discussed the situation with its community partners in Mexico.

"They came out with a statement to not boycott Tucson," said Garcia. "It caused a lot of commotion, but the partners were supportive."

Regardless, the number of Mexican visitors is still expected to drop. "Unfortunately people are acting out of aggression, there are conventions pulling out because they are scared that their members won't travel," Garcia said. "It's an emotional reaction."

Eight of nine conventions that pulled out of Tucson after the passage of SB 1070 remain future business possibilities, according to Garcia.

"We have short memories," said Garcia. "Things happen, life keeps moving and eventually business goes on."

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