Mexican tourism crippled as swine flu spreads
By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance
Canadians can say goodbye to its neighbours to the way-south for the next few months; the Mexican outbreak of swine flu having turned the tropical hot spot into the Baghdad of world tourism.
Many of our leading airlines and tour operators have suspended travel to the country until various dates in June, and perhaps longer, as fear mounts over the epidemic few seem to still know much about.
Montreal-based Transat AT Inc., Canada’s largest tour agency, has wiped out all packages to Mexico until June 1 and is rushing to add new flights to bring existing customers, passengers and employees home from the south.
Other tour operators like Toronto’s Sunwing Vacations have stopped organizing trips to Mexico and are offering cancellations or the chance for clients to rebook planned vacations there.
While no one is said to have died from the swine flu outside of Mexico, it doesn’t look like anyone’s too eager to take chances on this one (especially with all the recent pictures of nurses in medical masks acting as a nasty reminder of SARS.)
Canada has issued a travel advisory on all non-essential travel to Mexico, and the airlines have followed suit.
Air Canada will suspend all operations to Cancun, Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta until June (but they will keep flights to Mexico City), while WestJet will stop flights to Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta as well.
Cruise lines, however, aren't jumping to panic. Apparently Carnival is the only line to abandon its Mexican ports on their current trips, but they’re alone on this one. The Globe and Mail reports most cruise lines will stick with the country's destinations.
All this swine flu talk probably seems a bit overblown for now, but that’s because it hasn’t really hit us yet.
There are about 13 cases confirmed in Canada right now, albeit all of them considered mild. While all 13 are expected to survive, not much is admittedly known about the flu or its incubation period – and a vaccine is a still a few months away.
If anything’s for sure about the swine flu, most of us won’t be going to Mexico – where the death toll has hit 150 – to learn more about it.