Apple Leisure Group reassures travelers anxious about Mexico

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Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico.
Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Travel agents say that some clients are concerned about going to Mexico due to tension between the U.S. and Mexican governments, but Apple Leisure Group -- a top company in Mexico leisure travel -- assures that Mexicans will continue to warmly welcome Americans.

"There is no resentment or bad feelings from Mexicans to the American people. There is clearly a bad feeling toward Donald Trump. If Donald Trump decides to go on vacation in Mexico, I wouldn't be surprised if someone yells something nasty at him," said Apple Leisure Group CEO Alex Zozaya.

Apple Leisure Group operates many resorts in Mexico via its AMResorts division, and sends many travelers to the country through wholesalers Apple Vacations, Travel Impressions and CheapCaribbean.com.

Since the Mexican tourism economy relies heavily on U.S. travelers, Zozaya added that, if anything, Mexicans will likely be even more welcoming to Americans right now in order to counter concerns American travelers might have.

"Mexicans now have a task to prove to Americans that we love them, that they're totally welcome, that there is no resentment. They also know that the majority of Americans voted against Trump. In that sense, we not only have no issue with Americans, we are in solidarity with Americans," said Zozaya.

Travel sellers who specialize in Mexico report that they are fielding calls from clients who are concerned about feeling welcomed while on vacation, or even whether there will be a problem getting back into the United States.

"They are very concerned about the U.S. and Mexico right now not being such great allies," said Sara Butruff, owner of a Travel Leaders location in Apple Valley, Minn. "They are ready to cancel their trips. The biggest concern was that they are going to be treated horribly because of all the stuff we're demanding of Mexico. Or that Trump could put something into play or the Mexican government could put something into play and they won't be able to get home."

Annette Youngbauer, a Travel Leaders agent in Delafield, Wis., said that while the agency has not had any cancellations for Mexico, her agency is getting calls from travelers worried that Mexicans won't be hospitable. In response, Youngbauer and her colleagues are referring clients to the experiences of travelers they currently have in Mexico who are reporting back that they are having a "fabulous time."

Zozaya and Jack Richards, CEO of Pleasant Holidays, both reported that despite worrisome headlines about U.S.-Mexico relations, Mexico bookings are thus far strong for 2017, not least because of the good value Mexico is due to the strength of the U.S. dollar. Richards noted that low airfares are also helping to spur bookings.

"Our Mexico bookings are extremely strong this year and we expect to have a very good year for Mexico. I wouldn't say we have any concern at this point," said Terry Denton, a Travel Leaders agent in Fort Worth, Texas.

But Mexico specialists and packagers also acknowledged their worry about the effect on Mexico bookings if Trump's harsh rhetoric continues and U.S.-Mexico relations deteriorate.

"I'm concerned that if the current administration paints Mexico as one of the bad guys, [people who] want to support their president [will say], 'I don't want to spend money down there, so I'm not going to go,'" Zozaya said.

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