Border state madness

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A report in today's Arizona Republic has got to be maddening for hotel and resort operators in Arizona and points to a growing plague of jingoism and, frankly, racism that threatens to overtake the American psyche and take down the tourism industry with it.

According to the state's tourism office, the number of "traditional tourists" from Mexico—those who choose to vacation in Arizona as opposed to border-area daytrippers who come across to shop—fell by nearly 50 percent from 2002 to 2005. Put another way, 40,000 fewer Mexican tourists, mostly big-spending members of the upper class, are visiting the state each year. Thatâ€â„¢s a lot of roomnights and f&b dollars lost. The reason most experts on both sides of the border give is the inhospitable climate for Latin Americans, specifically Mexicans, irrespective of their immigration status. Mexican newspapers are full of stories about Minutemen, National Guard patrols and other attempts to seal the borders from all Mexicans or, if some of these crackpots have their way, all non-Americans.

It's this kind of isolationist thinking that fuels the general distrust and distaste a growing number of foreigners have toward the U.S. Rant all you want about terrorism, security concerns and even job losses, but if youâ€â„¢re in the hotel industry this kind of increasingly-pervasive attitude hurts your bottom line, perhaps permanently. What are you going to do about it?

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