The Mexico City government announced a plan this week to boost tourism in response to the negative impact of the H1N1 “swine” flu. The city will pick up medical costs for any guest who gets sick while visiting.  

Since the initial outbreak of swine flu in Mexico earlier this year, occupancy in Mexico City’s 470 hotels has dropped to as low as 5 percent and is currently at 59 percent, according to USA Today.  The government hopes to boost the number of visitors by offering health insurance for anyone who stays in the city between Aug. 1 and the end of the year.

“We want to send the message that Mexico City is a secure place that will protect its visitors,” city tourism minister Alejandro Rojas Díaz told the New York Times.    

Once visitors check into local hotels, they will receive a Tourist Assistance Card, which will allow access to medical care in the event of disease or emergency, as well as ambulance services after an accident and hotel accommodations during recovery, among other benefits listed on the city’s tourism Web site. Hotel guests can access help through 24-hour call centers that are available in Spanish, English, German, French and Portuguese.

Not only does the insurance cover health emergencies, but in an attempt to alleviate fears about crime, the plan will also cover some lost and stolen baggage claims.

The insurance plan is paid for by the government and contracted through a private Spanish insurance company called MAPFRE. The government notes that a deductible will apply for some fees, but the details remain unclear.  

Image of Mexico City by abalcazar via iStockphoto