Updated at: 03/01/2013 8:38 PM
By GABRIEL ALCOCER
(AP) CANCUN, Mexico - Tens of thousands of U.S. college students are flooding into the Mexican city of Cancun, where officials have stepped up patrols of marines, soldiers and special tourist police in zones packed with hotels and bars.
City officials said Friday that they expected thousands more visitors than the 25,000 who came to the Caribbean coast resort last year. They said at least part of that increase might be due to people avoiding Pacific Coast resorts such as Acapulco, which have been hit by high-profile incidents of criminal violence in recent years.
Cancun tourism director Maximo Garcia Rocha said some major tourist agencies were expecting as many as 43,000 spring breakers, but the major influx was only beginning Friday. The Cancun Hotel Association said occupancy was at 90 percent citywide.
Brad Madani, a 24-year-old from Toronto, said he had come to Cancun for the second time and was drawn by the beaches, discos and bikini contests. While many Canadians think Mexico is dangerous, Madani said, he felt safe in Cancun, particularly with the heavy presence of marines.
Speaking in halting Spanish, he added, "Hay muchas chiquitas bonita," or "There are many pretty girls."
Garcia said city authorities were distributing flyers at the 10 main spring break hotels giving numbers for the U.S. Consulate and advising spring breakers not to drink or urinate in the streets, use drugs, start disturbances or destroy property.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)