Posted: Feb 7, 2014 11:04 AM
Updated: Feb 7, 2014 11:04 AM
EL PASO, Texas (AP) Once dubbed the most violent city in the hemisphere, Ciudad Juarez is making a push to bring tourism back and has opened a visitors' center in El Paso, just across the border.
Located at the El Paso Saddleblanket, a giant southwest decor and souvenir store off Interstate 10, the Ciudad Juarez visitors' center will offer information about restaurants, bars and local attractions that American tourists used to visit before drug-related violence erupted there. The number of murders in Ciudad Juarez (pronounced SEE'-yoo-dahd wahr-EHZ') has dropped from 3,075 in 2010 to 483 last year.
The El Paso Times reports (http://bit.ly/1g2kujs ) more than 10,000 businesses closed from 2008 to 2010 as a result of a drop in tourism.
A State Department travel advisory cautioning travelers about visiting the city remains in place.
Before the violence Ciudad Juarez was a popular destination for El Paso residents thanks to its vibrant nightlife and wide variety of restaurants.
"Ju rez lived a lamentable situation for a few years, but now the city is making its comeback," said Jos Arturo Ramos, executive in charge of projects.
Officials there selected the Saddlebanket because it's a popular stopping point for travelers going through town and because it is located near two main border bridges crossing into Ciudad Juarez.
Eventually, the Mexican city plans to offer a shuttle service from El Paso across the border. Ramos said they are in talks with transportation companies and U.S. officials to expedite the border crossing. He expects the service to be available at the end of the year.
The visitors' center will be located inside the two-acre store but with an independent entrance and will be staffed full time.
The store will not charge for the use of space inside the facility and the parking lot once transportation is made available.
Information from: El Paso Times, http://www.elpasotimes.com