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International tourism fair in Merida is postponed

Officials were hard pressed to cancel an event that has historically drawn visitors from dozens of countries

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Merida’s Siglo XXI convention center in 2020, after a big renovation.

Merida, Yucatan — Yucatan Gov. Mauricio Vila requested the Tianguis Turístico México be suspended as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus.

The huge international tourism fair was to welcome around 10,000 travelers from an estimated 89 countries despite the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus. It was scheduled March 22-25.

The new date for the fair is Sept. 19-22.

No cases of coronavirus are known to be in Yucatan, and health officials want to keep it that way. The Center for Disease Control has implemented a Level 3 warning, meaning that travelers should avoid non-essential travel, for South Korea, Italy, Iran and most of China.

Before today’s postponement, organizers said they will “constantly monitor how the situation evolves around COVID-19. We would like to reiterate that we are maintaining close communication and coordination with the authorities of the Health Ministry (Secretaría de Salud), and attentive to any decision they make on this matter.”

Attendees were directed to locate government health officials should they feel symptoms of the virus upon arrival.

The 2020 Tianguis Turístico México will take place mainly at the newly renovated Siglo XXI Convention Center. The opening ceremony will take place at the Yucatan International Convention Center in the hotel zone, and keynotes will be delivered at the Gran Museo Mundo Maya.

In 45 years, this is Merida’s first time hosting the tourist fair. The event is seen as a way to put Yucatan on the radar of thousands of tourism experts, and officials are hard pressed to cancel or postpone it.

The aging Siglo XXI convention center was completely overhauled and expanded in time for the fair, and roads have been improved with the event in mind.

But globally, large-scale events have been canceled as a health measure. Classes, parades and sporting events — including the remainder of the NBA season in the United States — have been postponed. A coronavirus conference in New York was canceled because of the coronavirus. Many employers are urging employees to work from home and televisions programs with live audiences have closed their studios to the public.

Cruise ships are still docking in Progreso, however. On the Mobile, Ala., Carnival Cruisers Facebook page, visitors seemed mostly unconcerned about the virus outbreak, although they were sharing the U.S. State Department’s warning. The Carnival Fantasy’s sailings are typically to Progreso, and there hasn’t been any concerns about the virus spreading to the Yucatan Peninsula.

Earlier this month, the Grand Princess was held off the coast of San Francisco after a passenger tested positive for coronavirus. More than 20 crew and passengers subsequently tested positive. Also in March, four crew members and one passenger sailing to Jamaica tested positive for coronavirus on the cruise ship Braemar operated by British cruise line Fred.Olsen.

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