The other day a group of 13 tourists, 7 of whom were children, were held up while on a horseback tour here in Puerto Vallarta. One of the bandits was armed with an AK-47 and the other had a machete. An unfortunate incident, to be sure, but the locals reaction to it borders on the absurd.
First, the tour operators wouldn't give out refunds, even though the tourists had to walk most of the way back because the bandits ran off their horses.
Second, the local authorities did almost nothing in terms of trying to find the bandits.
Third, and most hilarious, at least to me, the locals are now saying the news media is making much too big a deal of this and it, the news coverage and not the incident itself, will hurt tourism.
Now I live in Brooklyn where crime is certainly not unheard of. But I suspect that if thirteen tourists were held up in New York City by someone wielding an AK-47 it would probably make the front page. Somehow the people in Puerto Vallarta, particularly the expats, think this news should be buried in order to preserve their image.
Now don't get me wrong. I think Puerto Vallarta is a wonderful place, I come here every year and will continue to do so. But I have learned that any mention of crime here is considered to be strictly taboo as it will hurt the tourism industry. And, of course, it is always the United States or Canadian media that is blamed. The truly gory, full color pictures of bloody corpses and decapitated heads featured in the Mexican newspapers are, I guess, acceptable because potential tourists don't read them.
This is reminiscent of the Swine Flu problem when it was the United States that was blamed for all of the hysteria and the subsequent drop in tourism here. Never mind that Puerto Vallarta shut down all of their bars and restaurants, it was all the fault of the United States media, particularly CNN. Meanwhile, CNN was bending over backwards to say that travel restrictions were unnecessary.
Ah well, such is life in paradise. Shit happens, just don't mention the smell.