There are no hard numbers to show that the news of assaults on American tourists in Baja California, Mexico, within the past year will deter college kids from going there for spring break.
Rosarito Beach and San Felipe, both located south of Tijuana, have been popular spring-break destinations for local college students for decades.
But anecdotal information appears to indicate that Las Vegas may be benefiting from the negative publicity surrounding Baja.
Ariadna Jacob, who attended San Diego State University and owns Red Rope Reviews, a local marketing firm involved in booking charter buses for short-range tours and events, says a group of SDSU students has called and asked her to plan a trip for them to Las Vegas.
Safety issues aside, she says students have also been victims of scams and tricks designed to fleece money out of them in the past.
She says she knew of some who went to Rosarito Beach via tour buses during a previous spring break who were “fined” by hotels’ staff members who threatened to call the police because they were “caught” visiting friends during the night in hotels other than where they were registered.
“I think things are trending more toward Las Vegas now,” she said.
Spring break is staggered between early March and early April for most of the nation’s colleges and universities, and SDSU lets out from March 31 to April 4.
Kaylee Peil, an SDSU senior, says she and three of her friends, who are coeds ages 21-22, plan to drive to Las Vegas on March 28, spend a couple of nights at the Mirage Hotel & Casino for $130 each and drive to Tempe, Ariz., to visit a friend for the rest of the break.
Carl Winston, director of SDSU’s School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, says he knows of “dozens” of students bound for Las Vegas, but none headed to Baja.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority doesn’t have any idea how many college students would travel there during spring break, says spokeswoman Alicia Malone.
College students, most of whom are under 21 and therefore not allowed to gamble in casinos, are not “a demographic that has been tracked,” she said.