San Diego

Border Closure Affecting Tourism to Tijuana, Baja California

Uncertainty over closures at the U.S.-Mexico Border south of San Diego has taken its toll on tourism to the southern side according to one business owner as Customs and Border Protection reinforces security procedures due to a group of migrants in Tijuana. 

Last Sunday, CBP shut down the border for five hours after hundreds of Central American migrants awaiting asylum proceedings attempted to rush the border during a protest on Mexico's side. The closure resulted in more than $5.3 million in losses for businesses near the border. 

More than a week later, businesses that rely on tourism to Baja California are still feeling the effects of the border shut down.

West Barba’s livelihood is dependent on the border. He runs Baja Border Tours, which takes tourists from San Diego on sight-seeing trips to Baja California, including Tijuana, Rosarito and Puerto Nuevo.

Barba said he usually takes 10 to 12 people across the border for wine and ocean tours but tourists began cancelling their trips after last week's border shut down and uncertainties that it could happen again.

"I had a lot of reservations already but people started canceling," he said. "They started calling to tell me, 'What’s happening at the border, we don’t want to go.'"

Images of long lines getting back into the United States after the closure scared his customers. He showed NBC 7 his booking calendar and they are filled with cancellations. He is getting worried.

"I have a lot of bills," he said. "It’s December, I was expecting a lot of customers for this season."

The winter season is one the busiest seasons for him, Barba said. Now, there are days when he said he has two or less customers scheduled on his tour. Sometimes, he has no one. 

"Anywhere from November, December and January just work, work, work," he said. "And it’s just not busy this year."

Barba doesn’t blame the migrants for his lost businesses. He sympathizes with them. Originally from Colombia, he left for a better life in the U.S. and said he hopes the migrants follow proper asylum procedure.

"I came to this country with $22 in my pocket and the United States is good to me," he said.

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