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Mexico may drop out of top 10 tourist destinations

| Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 9:33 p.m.

MEXICO CITY — Mexico's top tourism official said the country may drop out of the world's top 10 tourist destinations, a spot it has held for years.

Tourism Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu hasn't said why the drop occurred, but there were declines in 2012 in two areas that have been affected by violence: border tourism and cruise ship stopovers.

The number of cruise ship passengers stopping in Mexico dropped 3 percent in 2012 and more than 15 percent during the past two years. The number of border visitors dropped 5.3 percent in 2012, according to Tourism Department figures.

Mexican border cities such as Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo have experienced continued waves of drug cartel violence, and a number of cruise operators have dropped port calls along Mexico's western Pacific coast. Both areas have been affected by drug-fueled violence that has cost more than 70,000 lives in the past six years.

The drops contributed to a 1.2 percent decline in overall international tourism to Mexico in 2012.

“We have indications that we may drop one or two places, but we're not sure because the figures aren't ours, they are from the World Tourism Organization,” Ruiz Massieu said.

The WTO regional director for the Americas, Carlos Vogeler, said on Tuesday it could be less a story of Mexico losing tourists than about other countries making big gains and overtaking Mexico.

“You have to take into account that there are countries that have made a great deal of progress in attracting international visitors,” Vogeler said.

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