Mexico expects tourism benefit from fear of European terrorism

Mexico expects tourism benefit from fear of European terrorism
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Mexican officials believe the country's tourism sector could benefit from fear of international terrorism in the wake of attacks against popular tourist destinations in Europe.

Francisco Madrid, a former Mexican undersecretary for tourism, told Reforma newspaper that in the wake of a series of attacks in Europe, travelers are reconsidering their destinations.

"It's possible they may seek alternate destinations, which could be Mexico or cities within the United States," said Madrid.

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An attacker allegedly inspired by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) drove a truck into a crowd of revelers in the popular beach town of Nice, France, in July, killing 84 and wounding more than 300. 

Several other high-profile attacks have hit public places in Europe over the last year, including Paris and Brussels.

ISIS-inspired attacks have been carried out "every 84 hours" since June 8, CNN reported Sunday, citing terrorist tracker IntelCenter.

While Mexico is grappling with its own security issues stemming from a decadelong war against drug cartels, major attacks against civilians are uncommon.

"The Mexican government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that organized criminal groups have targeted U.S. visitors or residents based on their nationality," says the State Department's travel warning on Mexico.

Regardless, the State Department lists several Mexican states that American citizens should avoid and warns of potential criminal activity, rather than the threat of terrorism.

Mexican tourists are also choosing local destinations over European ones due to the threat of terrorism, said Jorge Hernandez, president of the Mexican Federation of Tourist Associations.

"Some are choosing to stay in Mexico rather than go to one of those European cities that are reporting severe issues with insecurity and violence," said Hernandez.

Mexico's tourism industry had 21.5 percent growth from 2013 to 2014 and 9.4 percent growth the following year, according to numbers from the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

The spike put the country back in the top 10 list of destinations by number of tourists per year, and it climbed to ninth place in 2015, receiving 32.1 million tourists that year.

France remains the world's most popular tourist destination, hosting 84.5 million tourists in 2015.