The hardship that Mexicans have endured, which authorities cite as a main reason the flu has been controlled, was acknowledged this week by Mexican President Felipe Calderón. "This extraordinary situation has signified important costs for the economies of the states and especially the population in general," Mr. Calderón said.
$1.3 billion stimulus package
To aid in the recovery, the government announced a $1.3 billion stimulus package in tax breaks and funds for businesses, including hotels and restaurants, said Mexican Finance Minister Agustin Carstens. Mr. Carstens said the crisis will cost the country about $2.2 billion, or reduce GDP this year by 0.3 to 0.5 percentage points.
For those in the informal economy, like Mr. Figueroa, the statistics mean little. "We live day by day," says Figueroa, who sells juice for about 75 cents per glass. "The government officials that make the policies don't live off the pesos they earn each day."
And stigmas will be much harder to fight, especially in the tourism industry. Mexican Tourism Minister Rodolfo Elizondo has said that they anticipate tourism revenue to fall by 43 percent this year, as airlines cut their flights to Mexico, companies cancel their conferences, and honeymooners opt for other beach destinations.
Tourist cancellation rate soars to 70 percent
In Cancún, Mr. Elizondo said, cancellation rates are as high as 70 percent, and hotel occupancy rates for the first 10 days of May dropped to 44.8 percent; typically they are almost double that. In Mexico City, the normal hotel rate of 55 percent fell to just 15 percent at the end of April. Sixty-four port calls were canceled for cruise liners, meaning the loss of up to 134,000 passengers who could have stepped in Mexican territory to purchase food and souvenirs.