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Mexico tourism braces for swine flu slowdown

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Investors were concerned enough to drive the Mexican peso down three percent Monday.

Fewer tourists are only part of the economic picture. Mexico's economy shrank by 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. In addition to the peso decline, the stock market also fell Monday by 3.5 percent.

Blue-mask tourism

Arriving in Mexico City does, indeed, seem an intimidating prospect these days. Upon arrival, all airport employees and officials are donning surgical masks. Most arrivals – some of whom quickly put on masks they brought from abroad – say they are aware of the risks, but not scared enough to avoid travel.

But once here, tourist choices in Mexico City, at least, are limited. Museums, public events, and dance clubs have closed their doors. The mayor of Acapulco told the Associated Press that he had ordered bars and night clubs closed in the Pacific resort city.

Mexico City restaurants have not been ordered to close, says Silvia Guzman, the general director of the Mexican Association of Restaurants in Mexico City. "They are following all of the recommendations, including wearing masks to cover their mouths," she says.

But many eateries were empty Monday, and some have closed temporarily. Many residents here have stocked up on food and are staying home.

"There is concern in our association about the impact," says Ms. Guzman, whose members include 250 restaurants across the capital.

The association is currently compiling data to find out how many restaurants have temporarily shut down and what their losses have been thus far.

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