Migrant caravan has negative impact on businesses at US-Mexico border

Latin America

The latest migrant caravan from Central America is en route to the city of Tijuana. Even so, the migrant crisis is impacting lives across cities at the U.S.-Mexico border. That’s especially true for locals relying on tourism.

CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock filed this report from Baja California in Mexico.

Rosarito Beach in Mexico’s Baja California is just one, major tourist destination close to the U.S. border.

Yet for the past few months, despite the high season, visitor numbers have been low. Some locals in the area have estimated a drop of 75 percent. It’s something many locals blame on events unfolding further up the coast.

“It affected us a lot at first, when the caravan arrived,” Delia Gomez, a fruit stand owner at Rosarito Beach said. “I think they don’t want to work, and that’s why they are still there. It hurts us a lot.”

“The work has dried up a bit, and everyone is feeling it because we live on tourism,” Javier Gamillo, a musician working along Rosarito Beach said. “People have stopped coming,. There have been days when all the businesses were empty along here.”

While the migrant caravans arrive in Tijuana, a domino effect is being felt in Rosarito, some 30 kilometers north. Tourists have become few and far between. Locals are quick to point to the ongoing crisis at the border as a direct cause for the drop.

While some Mexican tourists still come for their holidays, Americans are a rare sight there now.

“None of my friends want to come over here. In fact, I was coming over this weekend, and I invited several friends. I invited my parents, I invited my sisters, all of them said, ‘No, I’m not going down there’,” Los Angeles Resident Ernesto Martinez said.

“We used to come over here more often, but every time I think about it, there’s this little voice in my head that says, ‘Ok, caravans, narcos, drug cartels,’ and it’s like, forget it, I’ll stay in Southern California, or I’ll fly somewhere else.”

Mexican tourists continue to arrive, but have said the difference is notable.

“We’ve been here before, and there were more people. It looks very deserted,” Diego Carrillo said.

“Yes, very deserted,” Yalitze Carrillo said. “We haven’t heard of any violence from the caravan, only about the terrible mess of trash they leave behind. But no violence.”

Baja California’s tourism sector has become a collateral victim of the migration crisis at the border, and the next caravan is on its way. While authorities seek a solution to today’s problem, local workers fear the longer-term consequences for their economy.