Mexico tourism gets into web of hilarious mis-translations

cancun mexico

It has been a bad week for Mexican tourism promotion, and it got worse Friday when the English language version of the country’s tourism website appeared with hilarious mis-translations.

Entire states like Hidalgo and Guerrero apparently got machine-translated as Noble and Warrior. Worse for the site, there was systematic and inexplicable re-invention of the names of some fairly well-known tourist towns. The Caribbean resort of Tulum somehow became Jumpsuit. The nearby lagoon of Bacalar, on the Caribbean coast, was switched to the Gulf coast state of Tabasco, said a report by the Associated Press.

The snafu came one day after the U.S. State Department cited the high number of COVID-19 cases in Mexico for issuing a do not travel advisory for the country, its highest level of warning. Hours earlier, the resort of Acapulco was forced to pull anything “goes tourism” ads that showed people partying without masks and the words there are no rules.

But the problems at drew howls of hilarity and anger. The Pacific coast resort of Puerto Escondido became Hidden Port, a literal translation, and the northern city of Torreon became Turret, which is kind of close.

Some name changes were just inexplicable and appeared to have as much to do with invention as simple translation, said the report by Associated Press. The central Mexican town of Aculco somehow became I Blame, and the northern Gulf coast city of Ciudad Madero became Log.

Stop making Mexico look ridiculous, former President Felipe Caldern wrote in his Twitter account. Mexico’s Tourism Department issued a statement apologizing for the apparently out-sourced errors, but then made it sound like something sinister had been involved, the Associated Press report said.

“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.”

The department did not explain that claim, but local media reported the dispute might involve a web services supplier angry about not being paid.