Rosarito, Baja asks: Where have all the tourists gone? (NYT)

According to The New York Times, the community of Rosarito Baja California is asking “Where have all the tourists gone? Amid border strife…

ROSARITO, Mexico — On a forlorn beach, a long line of riderless horses shuffled along, their wrangler unable to spot a single sightseer who might want to hop on.

The vendors selling fruit and candy, or touting massages and tattoos, had relinquished their efforts to find customers and instead sprawled on the sand.

Inside the landmark Rosarito Beach Hotel, only the backdrop sound of the ocean waves interrupted the silence.

The tourist town of Rosarito, Mexico, usually bustling with throngs of young Americans partying at crowded dance clubs, was desolate. While winter is not peak season, residents say business has never been this bad.

“This is not normal, it’s all empty!” said Luis Pacheco, a waiter at Papas and Beer, a popular beachside bar.

“This used to be full of people,” he said, pointing at the rows of colorful wooden chairs on the sand, devoid of sunbathers.

Those who depend on American visitors for their livelihood attribute the steep falloff in tourism here to the recent turmoil at the border in the neighboring city of Tijuana, 16 miles north, where a migrant caravan from Central America arrived in November and hundreds remain gathered in overcrowded shelters.

Riderless horses on the beach in Rosarito, Baja California. The once vibrant tourist town is facing a steep drop in the number of American visitors. (CreditCreditMeghan Dhaliwal for The New York Times)

“It has been isolated incidents that have created a distorted, negative image of the border, and we are all suffering from it,” said Ricardo Argiles, the chief executive of the company that owns the Rosarito Beach Hotel, which has welcomed Hollywood luminaries like Orson Welles, Spencer Tracy and Rita Hayworth in its long history.

To reach Rosarito, most visitors journey by car along roads with stunning vistas of sapphire-blue ocean waters and rugged cliffs.