A shuttered Cancun resort awaits Mexico’s recovery from the coronavirus spread. Photo: Getty

Business leaders asked the government to help the flagging tourist industry using funds set aside for the Mayan Train and the Santa Lucia airport.

The Employers’ Confederation of the Mexican Republic (Coparmex) named two of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s pet projects that should be put on hold while Mexico deals with the spread of coronavirus.

“The tourism sector is experiencing one of its worst debacles due to the consequences of the Covid-19 epidemic (…) In all destinations, hotels, restaurants and businesses have been forced to close their doors,” the confederation said in a statement.

Tourism in Mexico generates around 9% of the national Gross Domestic Product.

“It is imperative that the Mexican government implement, within the framework of the National Tourism Program 2019-2024, an emergent and urgent action plan with specific financing to reactivate the country’s tourism sector,” Coparmex said in a public statement.

In addition, the business group asks authorities to inject more resources into the Expenditure Budget to reactivate the sector economically during the second half of 2020 and allocate a higher percentage of it in 2020.

Hotel and restaurant revenue has dropped 60% and 80%, respectively, and that tourism GDP is forecast to fall between 3% and 5% this year.

In the Easter holiday season alone, which is normally one of the year’s busiest, the tourism industry will suffer revenue losses of around 40%. The Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce, Services and Tourism (Concanaco-Servytur) reported that the sector registered losses of more than 195,000 million pesos, just one week before the health authorities indicated the start of the phase 2 of the contingency.

Coparmex also demanded the return of tourism promotion programs, such as the Pueblos Magicos program, and incentives for the development of workshop and convention, medical, cultural and religious tourism.

“The Tourist Diplomacy Council must work on an intensive program for the promotion of our country abroad as one of the main tourist destinations worldwide,” asks the employers’ confederation.

Finally, the organization called on authorities to grant micro, small and medium-sized enterprises a discount on social security payments as well electricity costs, VAT and income tax, as well as an extension of tax deadlines.