TIJUANA (Border Report) — According to Baja California tourism officials and the Mexican Consulate in San Diego, 65% of Southern California residents, especially white Americans, haven’t been to Tijuana in the last 15 years out of fear something might happen to them.

Carlos González Gutiérrez, Mexico’s Consul General in San Diego, told the El Sol Newspaper the city of Tijuana holds a bleak image driven by negative social media postings.

“It’s a challenge to get people to understand the difference from the rhetoric on social media to the reality,” González Gutiérrez said.

The consul general stated that in order to reverse this trend, it’s necessary to reach all sectors of society including private interests, lawmakers and influencers.

“The first thing we have to do is broadcast the reality via social media networks and other communication mediums,” he said.

González Gutiérrez also said the goal of launching a campaign would be to bring Americans who have stopped coming to the city and make them feel safe, something that happens when others visit south of the border.

Tijuana tourism officials have said another negative factor has been U.S. Department of State travel warnings asking Americans to reconsider their travel plans following cartel violence in the region.

According to the El Sol Newspaper in Tijuana, Juan Coronado Ruiz, director of the Visitors and Convention Committee in Tijuana, has said the state department warnings have impacted visits from “white Americans,” but not as much from Latinos in Southern California.

González Gutiérrez would like to see visitors from San Diego get “reacquainted” with Tijuana, which, according to him, is a big driver in the border region’s prosperity.