TIJUANA --City authorities announced plans to step up police surveillance, increase clean-up efforts and expand service to tourists during spring break, which traditionally begins Saturday and stretches to Easter Sunday.
An estimated 35,000 foreign and domestic visitors are expected to visit the city during this period, 5 per cent more than last year, a statement by the municipal government said Thursday.
In addition, 334,000 students and 14,000 teachers will be on vacation from school. Many families will travel during this period but many more will stay at home.
The police department will be at maximum staffing and neighborhood patrols, particularly around schools, will be increased to prevent vandalism, said Public Safety Director Jesús Alberto Capella in the release.
"We will also increase our support and service to tourists, covering those routes they visit most," Capella said, citing the downtown area, the Río zone and beaches and parks.
He noted that the fire department and lifeguard services also would be operating at maximum levels.
David Navarro, director of the city's urban development department, said popular public areas would receive greater attention. The measures included improving traffic signage, replacing 170 street lamps in the beach district of Playas de Tijuana, putting in landscaping and picking up trash more often at parks and beaches.
For his part, the president of the Tourism and Convention Committee, Mariano Escobedo Lavín, said the major attractions have prepared special "Semana Santa" programs, including the children's museum Museo Interactivo El Trompo, Centro Cultural Tijuana (Cecut), avenida Revolución, Parque Morelos and Parque de la Amistad.
He said tourists may dial 078 to get assistance from police, emergency medical personnel of the U.S. Consulate.
Escovedo said that the city had 3,300 quality hotel rooms available and owners were hoping for a 53 per cent occupancy rate.
Starting about five years ago, tourism in Tijuana and Baja California plunged, the combined effect of the recession in the United States, high-profile violence unleashed by organized crime, and more restrictive travel rules imposed by the U.S. government.
Since then, the U.S. economy has gradually improved and violence has dropped dramatically.
Tourism has come back slowly in the last couple of years, a trend the public and private sectors in Baja California are working hard to continue. Spring break is an early test of how the year will go.