It is hard to measure the impact that the loss of cruise ships will have on Mexico’s economy. But here’s an idea.
During the first two weeks of the H1N1 swine flu scare, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had issued an advisory against travel to Mexico, 123 cruise ship calls to Mexican ports were canceled.
That meant that 232,000 cruise passengers and 98,800 crew members did not visit Mexico. The financial loss of not having those passengers and crew in Mexico over two weeks was $23.2 million.
And that was only the first two weeks. Carnival Cruise Lines said it would cancel all calls in Mexico at least through June 15. Carnival ships alone make more than 30 calls per week in Mexico.
The cruise ports that are hardest hit are on the Caribbean side of Mexico, even though the virus has not been found anywhere near Mexico’s Riviera Maya. But because the ports are part of Mexico, they have lost all their cruise ship traffic.
Costa Maya is a port that was developed on the Yucatan Peninsula for cruise ships. Of the surrounding area’s 2,400 residents, 95% work directly in tourism, while the other 5% depend on the people who do, according to Costa Maya President Teofilo Hamui.
The port will miss out on three calls this month, and maybe three more in June, because of the swine flu. It doesn’t sound like much, but "those three ships allow the economy to keep going," Hamui explained.
"In terms of spending, that is $800,000 that won’t be spent in Costa Maya this month," he said. "Three ships help us pay our employees. A T-shirt might be only $8 or $10, but now you get nothing. From a little something to nothing means a whole lot."