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Baja Calif. Welcomes Tourists Despite Collapse Of Major Toll Road

MACARTHUR PARK ( — Despite last month's earthquake in Baja California, which caused the collapse of a major toll road, the state's tourism industry wants vacationers to know they can still visit its seaside cities.

Oscar Escobedo, Baja's secretary of tourism, visited Los Angeles Tuesday to say that Ensenada is accessible and welcoming tourists.

"We want to let people know that Ensenada is open," he said.

KCAL9's Cristy Fajardo reports that a stretch of Mexico's highway about 60 miles south of San Ysidro collapsed on Dec. 28. Twenty-four million a year and 20,000 visitors a day drive on the major artery connecting Tijuana and Ensenada.

The government in Baja said it will put a temporary patch on the highway and will re-open it in 60 days. A permanent road will take six to eight months to complete.

Escobedo said tourists can use the old road as an alternative, which he insists will only add 15 minutes to their travel time.

Fajardo reports that the damage is another blow to tourism from north of the border. Many Americans already have reservations about traveling to Mexico.

Escobedo admits his state has suffered because of problems in other parts of the country, but insists tourists are safer in Baja than many parts of the nation.

"Tijuana, which is a big city, we have 16 incidents for 100,000. And Washington, D.C. has 60. So things have improved radically," Escobedo said.

The tourism department does not have any hard numbers on how the highway closure has impacted tourism, but said hotel vacancy rates in Ensenada increased by 10 to 15 percent.

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