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Swine flu, hurt Mexico tourism

MEXICO CITY, Feb 16 – The H1N1 swine flu and the global financial crisis sent 1.1 million fewer tourists to Mexico in 2009, causing a two-billion dollar loss in revenues, the Mexican Tourism Ministry said Monday.

"Mexico got 21.5 million international tourists and 11.275 billion dollars at the close of 2009," Secretary of Tourism Rodolfo Elizondo told reporters.

By comparison, he said, in 2008 there were 22.6 million foreign visitors who came to the country and spent 13.289 billion dollars.

The drop in tourism was attributed largely to the H1N1 flu pandemic, which was linked to a 49 percent drop in monthly profits from foreign currencies and an 80 percent drop in hotel bookings at Mexico\’s main resorts, including Cancun.

The global financial crisis, Elizondo said, also had an impact since it shaved 6.8 percent off the gross domestic product last year.

The minister was hopeful tourism would swing back to normal, noting that in the latter part of 2009 "the sector showed a tendency to recover."

Mexico is the world\’s seventh-top tourist destination and it takes 11th place in tourist revenues.

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