Officials Respond to Robbery of Cruise Passengers in Puerto Vallarta

Twenty-two passengers from a Carnival Splendor cruise were robbed at gunpoint while on a walking tour just south of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on Thursday, Feb. 23. The tourists had arrived at the marina in Puerto Vallarta that morning, and were on an excursion near El Nogalito, a small town known for its natural beauty and scenic hikes. No one was hurt, but the tourists lost money and valuables. Local law enforcement and representatives from the U.S. Consulate in Puerto Vallarta attended to the tourists immediately afterwards to ensure their safety and welfare, and to assist in replacing any lost documents. "This is an extremely rare incident," the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board said in a statement, "and we are pleased that our destination's officials and the U.S. Consulate took swift action to ensure the health and safety of all our guests involved." The tourism board and local officials are working hard to discredit several reports in the local media that claimed a group of masked gunmen with automatic weapons had boarded a bus to rob the tourists. At a press conference on Monday, National Chamber of Commerce president Carlos Gerard called those reports "completely false" and asked that journalists not blow the incident out of proportion, according to a local newspaper, El Faro. The state of Jalisco's Secretary of Tourism, Auerilio Lopez Rocha, added that this was an isolated incident. "It's an unfortunate and sad act," he said, "but it is not symptomatic of the overall environment. It is an act that is under investigation, and we must keep fighting to inform everyone that Puerto Vallarta is a safe destination, that generally speaking nothing bad occurs and it is a safe and tranquil environment," quoted the newspaper.  Tianguis Turistico, Mexico's largest tourism industry conference, will be held in the Puerto Vallarta area March 25-28. Puerto Vallarta is not among the locations named in the U.S. State Department's latest Mexico travel advisory as places that travelers should avoid. The perpetrator, a lone individual with a pistol, still is at large.