While Mexico beaches expect crowds, border towns still bleak


by Angela Kocherga / KENS 5 Border Bureau


Posted on May 24, 2012 at 9:45 AM

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer vacation season. Tourism officials in Mexico expect a record-breaking year for the Riviera Maya.

But, many Americans are avoiding once-popular border towns.

The Riviera Maya is Mexico's top tourist destination.  The 81-mile stretch of Caribbean coast south of Cancun attracted a record-breaking 3.6 million visitors last year. A third of those vacationers came from the U.S.

This year, officials expect to top those numbers, with help from summer travelers.  

Billy Chavez came to this resort area to work after drug violence cost him a real-estate job in the border city Juarez.

Tourism is a leading source of income in Mexico. But while some regions thrive, others barely survive.

Mexican merchant, Jose Moran, says they don't have tourism anymore. Moran has sold handicrafts at the Juarez market since 1951.

Markets in the area used to be crowded with American visitors.  U.S. cities up and down the border promoted their proximity to Mexico. Some even touted the "two-nation vacation." 

But that was before all the bloodshed, before a state department travel warning for northern Mexico.

"In essence shutting down our number one tourist attraction," said Bill Blaziek, with the El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Visitors Bureau discourages people from crossing the border.

Things got so bad that a map that was put out by local businesses deleted Juarez altogether.  After two years, the map will once again include Mexico.

So as the border struggles to lure visitors back, some beaches in Mexico look forward to a busy summer.