February 28, 2012 / 12:42 AM / 7 years ago

Tycoon Slim to helm rescue for crime-weary Acapulco

People walk past a chalk outline drawn on the pavement to represent a dead body during a march against violence in Acapulco October 19, 2011. This city of dazzling hotels and sunlit beaches rose to fame as a playground of Hollywood stars. Today, Acapulco has now earned a very different reputation-for gangland decapitations, kidnappings and extortion. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim will spearhead a project to rescue the Pacific port of Acapulco, a once glamorous haunt of Hollywood stars that has lately become mired in violent crime.

Slim, the world’s richest man and owner of Latin America’s biggest cell phone company, will be the president of a council that will pool funding for new hotel developments, mostly in the oldest part of the resort famed for its daring cliff divers.

Acapulco’s home state of Guerrero said on Monday the council will also include Miguel Aleman Velasco, chairman of airline Interjet’s board of directors. The state government did not give details on how much money the council aimed to invest.

The city has suffered from a surge in drug-related killings, which nearly tripled last year, making the resort one of the most violent cities in the world in 2011.

The new plan calls for improvement in the transportation system, retail areas and a marine museum. Slim’s hotel company Ostar operates the Calinda hotel in Acapulco.

The slayings scared tourists away, and prompted President Felipe Calderon to send hundreds of extra police and soldiers into Acapulco to establish order. The murder rate has fallen in the last few months, according to Guerrero state.

Slim has helped give facelifts to downtrodden parts of Mexico in the past. In the early 2000s, he worked hand-in-hand with the then mayor of Mexico City, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, to revamp the main streets and shopping districts of the old town centre, where Slim owns many historic buildings.

Slim is a celebrity in Acapulco, seen at high society events and schmoozing with stars, such as Italian film legend Sophia Loren and French actor Alain Delon with whom he socialized at a recent film festival.

Reporting By Cyntia Barrera Diaz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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