Officials in Mexico have been left red-faced over a series of inexplicable translation errors on the country’s tourism website.
Despite having the third-highest coronavirus death toll in the world, Mexico is reopening to travellers state by state as it seeks to revive its tourism industry, which employs about 11 million people in Mexico either directly or indirectly.
But a bizarre series of blunders on the official tourism website, visitmexico.com, set that recovery off to a bit of an embarrassing start.
On Friday, the English-language version of the site suddenly became riddled with literal or nonsensical translations of Mexican destinations, the Associated Press reported.
While the Mexican states of Guerrero and Hidalgo appeared as their literal English translations of “Warrior” and “Noble”, others got a much more bizarre treatment.
Tulum, a coastal hotspot on the Yucatán Peninsula, appeared as “Jumpsuit” while the town of Aculco, known for its magnificent waterfalls, became “I Fall”.
The popular coastal city of Ciudad Madero was simply “Log”.
While “Jumpsuit” and the others starting trending on Twitter, the mistakes drew a furious response from former Mexican president Felipe Calderón.
“Stop making Mexico look ridiculous!” he tweeted.
The English-language Yucatán Times, which deemed the mistakes to be “terrible”, “embarrassing” and “pathetic”, reported the website was written in Spanish and translated to English via a plug-in.
Local media speculated the incident may have involved an aggrieved web services supplier who was upset about not being paid, AP reported.
Mexico’s Department of Tourism said a “criminal complaint had been filed” in its official response to the website blunder.
“The Tourism Department expresses its most sincere apologies to the public and users for the effects that have occurred on the website VisitMexico,” the statement said. “Moreover, we make it known that these acts aim to damage the image of the website and the department, and so therefore a criminal complaint has been filed and appropriate legal actions will be taken against those responsible.”
It wasn’t actually the only tourism-related mistake in Mexico since it began to re-open to tourists in July.
Last week, officials were forced to pull video ads spruiking the iconic beach destination of Acapulco as they showed people tightly packed in nightclubs with the tagline: “There are no rules.”
The ad campaign was reportedly designed to revive Acapulco’s former status as a night-life capital.
“We have stopped being a postcard from the past. Today we have changed the rules,” a voiceover in the ad said.
“In fact, there are no rules. Eat whatever you want, have fun day and night and into the early morning hours … find new friends and new loves.”
Officials said the ad wasn’t appropriate during the pandemic and in light of strict social distancing rules.
Mexico has been one of the worst-hit countries during the pandemic, recording more than 480,000 virus cases and over 52,000 deaths. It has the third highest death toll in the world, behind only the US and Brazil.
In July, a report by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation warned it could be years before Mexico’s tourism industry recovered from the damaging effect of travel restrictions and lockdowns.