San Felipe, Baja, Mexico

6:27 a.m. March 25, 2008

Baja California officials glad to see more visitors

TIJUANA: Baja California tourism officials say they saw a significant increase in visitors during the four-day Easter weekend compared with the past few months, bringing much-needed income to struggling tourist destinations.
Advertisement At a news conference yesterday, Tourism Secretary Oscar Escobedo Carignán said 143,000 U.S. and Mexican travelers spent about $18 million from Thursday to Sunday. Last year, the state tallied 149,000 visitors during the popular vacation period, when spring break and the Christian Holy Week coincide.
Tourism officials say a range of factors contributed to the decline in visitors to the state last year, including reports of crime, lengthy border waits, an economic downturn in California and the announcement of stiffer U.S. proof-of-citizenship requirements for border crossers. Hotel occupancy was highest in the Gulf of California community of San Felipe, which registered average occupancy rates of 99.4 percent for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In Ensenada, the figure was 84.5, and in Rosarito Beach, the average occupancy was 62.5 percent, according to the tourism secretariat's tally. –S.D.