This post discusses Mexico, Tourism and President Trump. It was written by Nicole Bergstrom a seasoned traveler and freelance journalist. After 20 years working in the corporate world, she started a new career path by combining two of her passions, writing and traveling. To read more see her blog @ www.nicolethetravelscribe.com
Donald Trump appears to have an issue with Mexico. One of his high profile campaign promises was to build a wall between the US and Mexico border, a wall President Trump insists will be paid for by Mexico. The current president of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, has vehemently refused to do so.
Why is Trump targeting his neighbors to the south? For many years, the North American Free Trade Agreement appeared beneficial to both countries. Presently, Trump is threatening to renegotiate the NAFTA agreement because he feels it no longer benefits the US, citing illegal immigration as his chief concern. This action could have a devastating effect on Mexico’s already unstable economy.
The tourism in Cancun has been steady thus far, but Trump’s policies have already had an impact. In the hotel zone, vendors pushed very hard to sell their goods and services. These vendors preferred American currency as payment, because the peso has depreciated in the last few months. Cancun, like several other Mexican cities, is predominately a tourist area and most of the local economy comes from tourists. Americans are the top visitors to Mexico and provide millions in revenue for the country. If the animosity between President Trump and President Nieto escalates, there could be a significant drop in tourists visiting Mexico.
I came to downtown Cancun to investigate how local people are reacting to the current political affairs and what the impact could be on their livelihoods. I was fortunate to cross paths with two local business owners who were willing to discuss this issue with me.
Juan Duran, owner of Los Pollos Amigos, a family run restaurant in downtown Cancun, shared his perspective with me. “I respect the United States, but I do not agree with Trump. I do not share the hard and severe policy towards migrants. Here in Cancun, I see the reflection of how deportees return, there is more violence and more youth joining drug cartels. They feel they have no other choice but to do that. This is a very hard, sad fact because both governments seem to do nothing. I feel both countries need to form a strategy that benefits both countries. This is not a time to make harsh decisions and appear inhuman. Not everything is as appears on the news, the reality is completely different.”
Senior Duran’s business in the last six months has improved, but it has cost him economically.
“I have American clients and I sometimes talk to them as if they were Trump. I would work to bring more cheap labor to my country and to manufacture more things here to make the nation stronger. Mexicans work hard every day, we think Trump is wrong and poorly advised. My President is also wrong. The ‘Mexican truth’ is and will always be unconditional of the current politics in the United States, we are friends with much in common.”
Yamil, a hotel owner for 10 years and a resident of Cancun for 42 years, discussed his perception of this issue with me. “The Mexican people do not want the wall, and do not agree with it. It is much like the Berlin wall, to keep people out. They need something other than a wall to control the border. Perhaps a visa denial to cross for certain individuals? Mexico cannot control the border so the criminals slip through. It seems both sides cannot agree on what to do”.
In respect to the economic situation in Mexico, Yamil elaborated, “Since Trump won the Presidency of the USA, our peso has depreciated 20%. The wages are approximately 10 times less than the United States. Many things are exported to Mexico like technology, cars and other high end items and we pay more for these things. The price for a gallon of gasoline is about $4.00 US per gallon. The issue is, for most people, the salaries and wages do not equal the cost of living. Some people are turning to violence due to this”.
I asked Yamil how business was in his hotel in the last six months. “I have seen less business at my hotel during this period. I think at this point in time, some people are afraid to go to Mexico. I do not like President Trump, but I do like and respect Americans and I always have. When you are staying at my hotel, you are staying as a guest in my home.”
My perspective as a solo female American tourist in Mexico was positive. During the five days I spent here, the locals went out of their way to give me helpful advice and offered to assist me in any way they could. The Mexican people were always polite, courteous and always greeted me with a massive smile. I was not concerned for my safety while in Cancun and I felt there was still a long standing connection with Americans. Hopefully as time goes on this will not be diminished and tourism will continue to thrive in this beautiful country.