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Diversifying beyond traditional appeals

Article - November 5, 2012
Mexico has given tourism, both at home and abroad, extra impetus through higher budget allocation and greater exposure at the G20
Despite the world crisis, Mexico has been able to grow, not only in its economical sphere but in the political arena as well. Gloria Guevara, Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism, highlights the exemplary job that President Calderon has done with his government strategy – one that remains constant despite adversities. And when compared to other nations, Mexico shows the resilience of both the government and the Mexican people.

In terms of tourism, Mrs Guevara explains how Mexico has exceeded its expectations. “Tourism in Mexico counts for 9 per cent of GDP, creating 2.5 million direct jobs and 5 million indirect jobs – that is a combined total of 7.5 million jobs,” she remarks.

When President Calderon came into office, Mexico was receiving some 162 million national and international tourists. In contrast, 2011 was a record-breaking year, with a total of 191 million tourists. Of these, 168 million were local tourists, while around 23 million hailed from abroad. Impressive as these figures may be, Mrs Guevara expects the total number of tourists to be as high as 202 million tourists in 2012.
She says that the reason why Mexico has experienced growth is largely due to the fact that the current administration has invested 300 per cent more in the tourism sector than the previous government did. Whereas the previous administration invested just under 8 billion pesos (£382.4 million), Mr Calderon’s administration has invested upwards of 31.4 billion pesos. Going back two administrations, current investment in tourism is 533 per cent higher.

Greater funding falls right in line with President Calderon’s ambition to raise awareness of the importance of tourism in every country’s agenda. Indeed, at the G-20 held in Los Cabos last June, Mexico successfully pushed for tourism to be included in the G-20 Declaration for the first time ever.

Although investment and tourism arrivals are up, perhaps the most important and revealing figure for the tourism sector is the percentage of repeat visitors. Surveys show that 98 per cent of tourists to Mexico return at least once more. This statistic places Mexico among the Top 4 tourist destinations in the world.

The United Kingdom is the third most important market for Mexico. Last year saw a 12 per cent rise in UK tourism arrivals.

Gloria Guevera, Secretary of Tourism

Furthermore, Mexico is not only a popular holiday destination; it is also a choice place to live. More than 25 million North Americans head south after retirement, and from their testimonies, Mrs Guevara gathers that they are more than pleased with their new life in Mexico.

Abroad, Mexico is primarily known as a sun-and-sand destination; however the Secretariat of Tourism would like to show another side of Mexico. Beyond its beautiful beaches, Mexico boasts extraordinary cultural sites, exhilarating adventure tourism, and an exquisite and highly varied gastronomy that was recognised by the UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.

History buffs are inevitably enthralled by the Mayan ruins along the Mayan Route and by the museums, convents, monasteries and churches included in the so-called Religious Routes, while the numerous Magical Towns (‘Pueblos Magicos’) scattered throughout the country hold a unique charm and warmth. Mrs Guevara says that the government plans to promote health tourism soon, highlighting the country’s 70 hospitals certified by the Joint Commission, and of course the more than 3,000 spas.

According to the Secretary of Tourism, the UK is the third most significant country for Mexican tourism. Last year, Mexico received more than 330,000 tourists from the UK and the British Airways flights from Cancun experienced a significant growth.

Tourism professionals can now make a virtual visit to Mexico from November 5-8 at the World Travel Market, being held at London Dockland’s ExCeL Exhibition Centre.