Update, 5:15 p.m. EDT: According to cruise-community.com, Mexico ports will be offering cruise lines a 50 percent reduction on port taxes for the next three months in an effort to coax them back to the region. That amounts to reduction of about $165 million, should lines take advantage of the offer. However, they're all sailing elsewhere at the present time.
(May 5) -- Mexico to cruise ships: We want you back.
In the wake of last week's swine flu scare, Mexico President Felipe Calderon on Monday announced that the country's tourism board will temporarily reduce taxes for cruise lines calling in Mexico ports. According to a report by Reuters, Calderon said he hopes that the discount will encourage ships to return and help to boost the economy, which has been suffering since cruise lines switched Mexico itineraries in response to the outbreak of the pandemic.
However, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean -- which has canceled all Mexico port calls through at least June 14 -- said that the line has not issued an official statement about the reduced taxes at this time and will continue to sail alternate itineraries as planned. Carnival, which has also switched up its itineraries through mid-June, was unable to provide comment at press time. Other lines with upcoming sailings impacted by swine flu include Princess and Holland America.
Click here for the full list of itinerary changes.
At this time, it is unclear how long the tax reduction discount will be in place, what the savings would be to the lines or consumers, and which line, if any, will be the first to take advantage of it.
In other news, Texas state health officials today confirmed the first death of a U.S. resident with swine flu, as reported by the Associated Press. However, the worst may be over in Mexico itself. In a press release Tuesday, the Mexico Tourism Board announced "that the spread of the virus has slowed dramatically throughout Mexico over the last few days."
The release also states that most public places -- including museums and restaurants -- will be allowed to reopen on Wednesday.
We'll keep you posted.
--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor
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Swine Flu Update: Mexico Tries to Woo Cruise Ships Back
May 11, 2009