MEXICO CITY – Billionaire Carlos Slim, considered the world’s richest person, has agreed to lead an effort to revive the tourism industry in Acapulco, a Pacific resort city plagued by drug-related violence, the Mexican Tourism Secretariat said.
The Tourism Development Program for Acapulco’s Traditional Zone is being promoted by officials to increase the number of tourists visiting the resort city in the southern state of Guerrero and to get visitors to spend more.
Slim will chair an advisory council that will raise money to build new hotels in Acapulco’s old section and a marine museum, as well as to modernize the transportation system and business districts.
The program was unveiled Monday in Acapulco by Tourism Secretary Gloria Guevara, Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre and leading tourism industry leaders.
“Those who do not invest and go slow because they have doubts will be left behind. I am not afraid of investing here in Acapulco,” Slim said.
Acapulco, known for its beautiful beaches, has been a popular destination for celebrities, foreign leaders and other tourists since the 1950s.
The resort city has been dealing with a wave of drug-related violence that made it one of the most dangerous cities in the world last year, non-governmental organizations said.
A total of 1,538 murders were registered in Guerrero between January and September 2011, official figures show.
The federal government responded to the violence by launching the “Safe Guerrero” program, which is designed to implement joint projects to fight crime and rebuild the region’s social fabric.
Acapulco “has overcome” its crime problems, “thanks to the implementation of Joint Operation Guerrero and the intervention of the armed forces,” Aguirre said.
The Tourism Development Program for Acapulco’s Traditional Zone is expected to create 6,000 direct jobs in the tourism industry, Guevara said.
The program should produce a 30 percent increase in hotel occupancy, generating more than 4.6 billion pesos (about $357 million) in economic activity and bringing about $55 million in foreign exchange into the coffers, the tourism secretary said. EFE