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Mexico: the key to facing a crisis is being prepared

In recent weeks, Mexico has faced several unfortunate occurrences that have rapidly snowballed. The recent update to the Mexico Travel Warning by the U.S. State Department was the latest in a series of bad news including the very unfortunate death of a young woman after the alleged alcohol-related death at a beach resort.

The truth is we need to stop covering the sun with one finger and see how the facts unravel instead of reacting to what is being said. The truth is that we must stop denying or blaming others because Mexico is too big for that and tourism is too important to stay in that place.

In the last few years, Mexico has gone through a lot of hard times - be it hurricanes, storms, influenza A H1N1 or Zika virus - and the country has been able to deal with them not just because it’s a strong destination with a lot to offer, but because it relies on a strong and professional hotel sector.

The same is true this time around. Despite the many factors going against the country, Mexico shall overcome. The perfect storm can also become the perfect learning opportunity to reflect on what a destination needs to do to be prepared to face these kinds of circumstances.

Generally, crisis occur with no warning; they just simply happen. We saw it recently in Barcelona and it happens everywhere, even the less likely places. The key is to be prepared and have a well-defined plan of action to prevent the situation from escalating and end up further damaging a destination.

Today information is everywhere and social media provides access to direct communication, so it is important to say and show things exactly as they are without losing perspective.

During these times, the Mexican hotel industry, which has some of the highest standards of service for the tourism industry, must make the extra efforts to adequately communicate to potential visitors the high level of their tourism offering. This is the only way they can avoid being unfairly generalized.

It is important that the destination have a Shared Purpose that brings people together and empowers them. The message must be coordinated and unified, and doesn’t contradict itself or serve as an accusation. It is fundamental not to contribute to the confusion of the situation, but instead serve to clarify doubts and uncertainties. Also, the role of a spokesperson and their level of empathy in these cases becomes even more relevant.

In today’s world of transparency, it’s not a matter of covering anything up – quite the opposite. It’s a matter of proactively communicating the truth and allowing for potential visitors to digest the information and eventually help change their perceptions.

Nevertheless, the hard facts demonstrate that the desire to experience Mexico has not been altered and remains at its highest level. Last year alone, the country welcomed more than 35 million tourists from all over the world.

The tourism and hotel industry strive to improve quality standards and meet the demand and high expectations of visitors. Taking a broader look on a global scale, Mexico’s safety figures are much lower than many large cities.

So with this I invite potential travelers who, in addition to taking proper precautions and using common sense – like not hanging around non-tourist zones or taking unregistered taxis – speak with travel agents who are experts of the destination or with tourists who have visited the country recently. We also expect the Mexican tourism sector to continue its effort in showcasing the high quality tourism offering they have and promote all the great experiences waiting for travelers.

*Senior Vice President and Head of the Tourism Practice at Newlink.

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