It looks as if the weather and the economy in the United States will hold the keys to bargains at Mexico resorts this winter.
Last winter, the Gulf War and the economic recession, particularly on the U.S. East Coast, forced beach resorts all over Mexico to scramble for business. The result was mixed.
Acapulco reported the biggest drop in business (26.3 percent) from January through May compared to 1990. Mazatlan was down 11.8 percent, Cozumel down 4.4 percent and Puerto Vallarta down 2.3 percent, according to Tour & Travel News, an industry publication.
Showing increases were Cancun, up 20 percent; Los Cabos, up 22.8 percent; and Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, up 5.6 percent.
This winter season, the lingering recession is expected to keep some travelers closer to home. On the other hand, a cold winter could make tropical escapes more alluring.
Thus, while many large resorts say they'll raise their basic prices about 10 percent this winter, they add quickly that major discounting still may be necessary to lure the travelers to Mexico.
Cancun's business soared last winter and early this year because of deep discounts, for which other resorts criticized the Caribbean resort, Tour & Travel news reported. But travelers can expect continued discounts this winter.
Baja's Los Cabos, on the other hand, credited its good winter to being new, rather than any major price cuts, although some discounts were offered, and may be again this year.
In an attempt to counter the early 1991 visitor slide, the Mexican government is said to be ready to contribute about $6.5 million to a major advertising campaign this fall conducted by resorts and airlines, the magazine said.
Cruises to Mexico reportedly are selling well, but the recession and weather will dictate the amount of discounting needed to keep the liners relatively full.
For now, at least, travelers who want to vacation at a particular resort at a particular time this winter would do well to nail down those accommodations soon. Those who are more flexible will want to watch the travel ads for bargains.