The law, which became effective June 1, 2009 requires a passport, passport card or other compliant documents for re-entry into the U.S. from Mexico and Canada. (See "New Passport Rules in Effect Today")
The AZ Republic article points out, among other things, that only about 22% of Arizonans have a passport, compared to 30% nationwide, a fact I did not know. With the added hassle and expense of obtaining a passport or passport card now in effect, the impulsive, spur of the moment "Let's go to Rocky Point for the weekend" trip may become a thing of the past, at least temporarily. That presents a potentially huge loss for Puerto Penasco's businesses.
And let's take a closer look at the expense factor, considering the state of the economy in the USA. A passport book for adults over the age of 16 costs $100; under the age of 16 it's $85. That doesn't include the price of passport photos. So not counting the photos, a family of four with two minor children has to come up with an extra $370+ in order to visit Puerto Penasco. For a lot of people, that's a considerable amount of money. Even though it's a one-time cost (good for 10 years), the short term effect is that it makes that cheap weekend at the beach less cheap and less attractive for families worried about their finances.
A short quote from the AZ Republic story showing more evidence of the drop in tourism (as if we didn't already know how rough it is):
Auto-insurance companies also say there are fewer U.S. motorists driving to Mexico. Mexico auto-insurance sales at AAA Arizona are down 57 percent from last year. That reflects a steep decline in motorists heading to Rocky Point, spokeswoman Linda Gorman said.
Coming behind the collapse of the US economy, drug-related violence and swine flu the passport requirement is just one more negative that appears to be impacting Rocky Point's fledgling tourism industry. It's going to take a big and long-term effort to bring everyone back...
Do read the entire story in the Arizona Republic: Passport law hurting tourism