Archeological authorities in Mexico on Tuesday said that they kicked some cast members of a popular local Jersey Shore-style reality show out of the Mayan ruins of Uxmal after they behaved “immaturely” and refused to wear masks or follow social distancing regulations.
It was the latest round of bad promotional work in Mexico’s desperate attempt to revive its tourism industry, which has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It seems the young, ripped cast members of Mexico’s popular Acapulco Shore reality show and another contestant show — whom the Yucatan State government described as “influencers” — were invited to tour the ruins soon after they were reopened in a bid to encourage tourists to return.
However, the National Institute of Anthropology and History said the half-dozen cast members “were asked to leave, in compliance with health rules.”
Employees at the 1,000-year-old complex of Mayan temples, palaces and pyramid platforms said that the cast acted “immaturely,” and refused to follow posted rules requiring masks and social distancing.
Photographs posted on social media showed them clowning around and posing in close contact atop one ancient structure.
Yucatan officials denied paying the cast members, but acknowledged that the visit was part of a promotional campaign and defended the invitation.
Yucatan State Secretary of Tourism Promotion Michelle Fridman wrote on Twitter that “the influencers were not paid one single peso. It also wasn’t some half-baked idea but rather part of a strategy included in the plan for recovery from COVID, and if we carefully measure the impact, we estimate we got 200 million hits for a sector that urgently needs promotion.”
Fridman’s office did not respond to requests for comment, but her stance apparently boiled down to “any news is good news” in a state where tourism is vitally important.
Tourist arrivals at airports in Mexico fell by 93.4 percent at the worst point in May, and even with projections showing some recovery in the second half of this year, they are expected to end the year 42.8 percent below last year’s levels.
Tourism provides 11 million jobs, directly or indirectly, in Mexico.
The Uxmal dispute was the latest chapter in a bad year for Mexican tourism promotion.
In August, due to disputes over payments and control of the English-language version of the country’s tourism Web site, its Internet page appeared with hilarious mistranslations.
On the VisitMexico.com site, states like Hidalgo and Guerrero apparently got machine-translated as “Noble” and “Warrior.” The Caribbean resort of Tulum became “Jumpsuit.” The names of other tourist towns were also mangled.
The Mexican Department of Tourism issued a statement apologizing for the apparently outsourced errors and later launched a redesigned page.
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