Desperate for tourists in the aftermath of the H1N1 swine flu outbreak, Mexico City is promising free health insurance to any foreign visitor for the duration of their stay at capital city hotels, effective July 1.
Foreign visitors will be insured for any medical emergency requiring an emergency room visit, hospitalization or even surgery as well as medical evacuation; in other words, the coverage isn't limited to H1N1 cases.
The health coverage, dubbed Travel ACE Assistance Mexico City, will be provided by ACE Seguros, the Mexican arm of the ACE Group, an international insurer.
Coverage would be provided at private hospitals throughout the city. The insurance would not cover patients with pre-existing conditions requiring medical care.
"This insurance will allow tourists to feel secure at all times," said Alejandro Rojas, Mexico City's tourism minister.
He said the insurance plan would kick in as soon as tourists check into their hotels.
With record-low occupancies since the swine flu outbreak, Mexico's hotels and resorts have been offering rock-bottom rates and incentives designed to lure back visitors.
But Rojas, the capital's tourism minister, called the health insurance plan a "one-of-a-kind" effort to "reactivate the economy and tourism" in Mexico City.
Meanwhile, in another effort to boost foreign tourism to the capital, the tourism board is working on a coupon book offering discounts ranging from 10% to 60% at more than 1,000 participating hotels, restaurants and attractions.
In addition, the city government plans to offer a bank card to national tourists visiting Mexico City that would offer a preferential interest rate for purchases made at participating businesses in the capital.
Occupancy at Mexico City's hotels stands at less than 30%, down significantly from more than 50% at this time last year, the capital's tourism board said.