Not long ago, Rosarito Beach proudly announced it was hosting a pro surfing contest in early April to coincide with spring break and divert attention from a highly publicized drug war that has tarnished the northern Baja California city's image and devastated its economy.
More recently, the city reluctantly announced the contest has been postponed until Aug. 7-9. The marketing firm helping to stage the Assn. of Surfing Professionals' qualifying series contest cited a need for more time to secure adequate sponsorship and said the new dates would be more attractive to prospective competitors.
Translation: It's not easy to land sponsors or lure a large field when the negative media spotlight shines so glaringly on a coastal party town in which -- and this needs stressing -- not a single tourist has been killed since Mexico's drug cartels and factions within those cartels ramped up their bloody turf war two years ago.
The postponement is a shame because Rosarito Beach, which during the past year has taken many admirable steps to make tourists feel safe, could use the kind of boost a surf contest might provide sooner rather than later.
Mayor Hugo Torres and Convention and Visitors Bureau President Laura Wong expressed disappointment with the postponement. Unfortunately, the city and its large ex-pat community have grown accustomed to these kinds of setbacks.