Acapulco's Tourism Infrastructure Escapes Hurricane Pauline's Wrath

By Lori Tenny

ACAPULCO -- Tourism services here were nearly back to normal in the wake of Hurricane Pauline, which left minor scars on the resort areas but wreaked havoc on the local population, Sectur, Mexico's Ministry of Tourism, said. Pauline devastated hill towns above the resorts and was blamed for the deaths of some 200 local people, but it caused only power outages, some flooding and cosmetic damage to beachfront hotels.

By Oct. 13, Acapulco's main hotels were welcoming delegates to the World Mining Congress, which was scheduled to be opened Oct. 14 by Mexico President Ernesto Zedillo at the city's convention center. Most of Acapulco's power and phone service had been restored, and the water, mud and debris on the Costera Miguel Aleman, the resort's main strip, had been cleaned up, as was debris in the bay, a spokesman for Sectur said. He added that flights were operating on schedule into and out of Acapulco's airport, which was closed on Oct. 9 and for part of the day Oct. 10.

A portion of the highway that follows the coastline between the hotel zone and the airport was damaged, and the detour route, which runs along a new highway, has added up to 45 minutes to the commute. Officials said the road is expected to be repaired within the next week. Mexico wholesalers contacted in the U.S. reported little disruption of services and few cancellations.

Friendly Holidays received a number of inquiries from clients booked on future Acapulco trips. "The perception is that Acapulco is badly damaged, but we know it is a short-term issue," said Enrique Klein, the firm's vice president of marketing and operations for Mexico. Klein said Friendly, which is based in Lake Success, N.Y., was flexible with clients who wanted to postpone Acapulco trips departing this week or who asked to change destinations.

But tour operator Express Holidays was advising clients to avoid Acapulco until the end of the week. Norm Hansen, the San Diego firm's president, said possible power problems and mud were likely to inconvenience clients.

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