September was an exceedingly difficult month for Mexico. From two earthquakes to additional safety alerts, Mexico has had a rough run in an already choppy year
But the good news is the country has banded together to work aggressively to get the country back on track both for its own people and its millions of visitors. Here is what you need to know about the current state of affairs in Mexico.
No doubt the area hardest hit was southern Mexico when on Sept. 7, a 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Oaxaca, rattling the state as well as neighboring Chiapas. Almost 2 million people were affected by the quake, and 300,000 were identified as victims, while nearly 100 people lost their lives.
The government has allocated money for relief efforts to help the people here rebuild their homes. President Pena Nieto told Mexico News Daily that he is convinced that he can have all homes rebuilt in four months maximum. The areas of Oaxaca that receive the most tourists, like Oaxaca City and Puerto Escondido/Huatulco, received minimal damage, and all airports are open and operating.
Then on Sept. 19, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck outside Puebla, about 100 miles outside of Mexico City. The capital felt tremors up to 6.0. This earthquake was the deadliest to hit Mexico in more than 30 years, bringing down buildings in the capital and forcing emergency crews to dig for survivors. At least 225 people were killed. The earthquake subsequently triggered the eruption of the Popacatepetl volcano, which killed 15 people.
Mexico City's airport remains open and fully operational. All public transportation services are working, though some bus routes have been rerouted to avoid streets that need cleaning.
Most of the city has been restored its electricity and power. In addition, most hotels are fully operational. Some attractions, such as the Museo Nacional de la Revolution and the Museo Studio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo, are still closed, but a majority of the city's attractions and museums are operating normally, including La Casa Azul, the Anthropology Museum, Chapultepec Castle and Palacio de Bellas Artes.
In Puebla the airport is running on a normal schedule. Water, electricity and hotels are fully operating, and more than half of the city's museums of have reopened.
Meanwhile, Los Cabos made an appearance on the U.S. State Department travel warning list, a first appearance in a very long time as the destination seemed to stay out of the drug violence fray that exists in other parts of the country.
The destination was fast on the case to extinguish any fears from tourists with existing and future travel plans, seeing as tourism accounts for 90% of the Los Cabos economy.
A security plan was swiftly put into place, upping the number of surveillance cameras from 50 to 250. These connect to both law enforcement and private security services. Eventually the system will also feed into a $7 million headquarters for the Mexico Marines.
Another part of the plan is to have representatives of hotels, timeshares and developers meet every two weeks to assess developments, and security teams from hotels will meet with public officials twice a week to share intel. Hotels will also adopt the protocols of the U.S.-based Overseas Security Advisory Council.
Los Cabos has seen epic growth in the last year, with 20% growth in airline seats. The destination is looking to add more flights from Philadelphia and New York, as well. In addition, there are major luxury hotel plans in the works for 2018.
In the face of these recent challenges, tourism officials aim to ensure potential visitors that the country is back in business.
"Many people around the world have asked if there's anything they can do to help Mexico," said Hector Flores, CEO of the Mexico Tourism Board. "At this time, we invite them to show their support and solidarity with Mexico and its people by continuing to visit, sharing their great experiences and recommending travel to Mexico to their colleagues, friends and families."