Mexico consolidates as a tourist destination after the pandemic
The country emerges as a diverse, sustainable and accessible proposal, while advancing with the expectations set for the rest of the year
The tourism sector is going through an important recovery process at a global level after having overcome the worst moment of the pandemic crisis. For some, this meant a total paradigm shift in the way of thinking about hospitality. In the case of Mexico, the proper management of the health situation made it possible to soften the effects of the decline in the industry and position the country today as an interesting destination for the travel agenda. Tourism Secretary Miguel Torruco Marqués spoke about this and various issues related to the present and future of tourism in the region.
Mexico is today a success story worldwide, what is your reflection on the position taken regarding the management of the pandemic?
This success is due to the correct policy of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during the pandemic, which was: not canceling international flights, the immediate implementation of biosanitary protocols, designed between the Secretaries of Health and Tourism, in close coordination with the private sector, here I want to emphasize that we were the first country in Latin America to implement them; as well as the opportune purchase of vaccines thanks to the republican austerity policy and not indebtedness.
All this helped to be recognized internationally, and that tourists arrived who were not used to traveling to Mexico before.
Similarly, we were the only country that did not cancel its main tourism fair, and we took advantage of technology to innovate, achieving the Digital Tourist Market and the Digital Magical Towns Market, with two successful editions. In addition, virtual meetings were held with tour operators from the main issuing markets; so that bottom was not reached and social peace was preserved and economic stability was maintained.
And today, more than two years later, we know that the decisions made, at critical moments of the pandemic, were the correct ones, opting for solidarity, instead of private interests; gradualness, instead of immediacy; actions with a long-term vision in exchange for momentary and short-term actions; and putting safety, responsibility and trust before despair.
Despite the excellent results, there must be many issues to improve, what are the challenges to solve in your opinion?
As indicated in the instruction of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, we work to make tourism a tool for social reconciliation, where the economic benefits of this sector permeate the communities. Put an end to those tourist paradises with marginalization belts.
Another objective set is to increase foreign exchange earnings from tourism and per capita spending by travelers. I remind you that in 2018, Mexico was in the seventh position in international tourist arrivals, but in the seventeenth in foreign exchange earnings from tourism; and in 40th place in per capita spending.
To this end, we are working on the diversification of tourism activity, to also prevent more than 92.5% of international tourism from being concentrated in just six destinations: Cancun, Mexico City, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara and Monterrey.
Here, I highlight the Mayan Train project, which with 1,525 kilometers of route, will connect the states of: Chiapas, Campeche, Tabasco, Yucatán and Quintana Roo, and along its route there will be 190 first-class tourist attractions.
In addition to this work for the southeast, 'anchor' products are developed in each state of the country. We already have, for example, the Mexican Hotel Museum, in Orizaba, Veracruz; the Armando Manzanero Museum, in Mérida, Yucatán; the GNP Seguros Arena, in Acapulco, Guerrero, the new venue for the Mexican Tennis Open; the Callejón de los Beatles”, in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, among others. In this last city, by the way, next year, the Mar de Cortés Aquarium will be inaugurated, which will be the largest in Latin America.
Along with this, we develop high-impact events, such as the “Mar a Mar” race, in Baja California Sur, which will take place from December 2 to 4, 2022; the “Great Desert Race”, to be held on October 22 and 23, in Sonora; and so in each entity we will be integrating products to encourage tourist activity and economic benefits, in coordination with the three levels of government and hand in hand with private initiative.
What Mexican destinations have gained momentum beyond the average then between 2020 and 2022 and why?
Without a doubt, our 132 Magical Towns that have become the new tourist face of Mexico. These beautiful tourist squares, which are distinguished by their tradition, folklore, handicrafts, gastronomy, cultural and natural heritage, gained a lot of strength after the pandemic, because the current tourist, more informed and more demanding, seeks outdoor activities, contact with the nature and with the communities, in addition to living new experiences.
For this reason, we carried out the First International Tianguis de Pueblos Mágicos, in Barcelona, Spain, with successful results, with the participation of 75 tour operators from 16 countries. The second edition will be held in Los Angeles, California, in the second half of 2023, as this state of the United States is the main source of international tourists to Mexico.
More than USD 13 billion entered Mexico for international tourism until june, what was the objective that had been proposed for this year and what is the figure planned for 2023?
It is a fact that the recovery of the tourism sector is already a reality. At the end of July, Mexico received 16 thousand 458 million dollars from international visitors.
This is a very important piece of information because we must remember that the tourism potential of a nation is measured by the foreign exchange earned, and not by the number of tourists that arrive, as I mentioned earlier.
So, for this year, and according to expectations, there will be a historical economic spill of 26 thousand 121 million dollars, even exceeding what was registered in 2019 by 6.3%.
Mexico exceeded 2 million international visitors in June, according to your vision, what is the number you aspire to taking into account investments in infrastructure, new routes and more cruise ships that are arriving?
We have a projection that this year 42 million 301 thousand international tourists will arrive in Mexico, this figure is still 6% below 2019, but I reiterate, in foreign currency from tourism we will break the record that was achieved in the year prior to the pandemic.
As data, I inform you that from January to July of this year, 21 million 677 thousand international tourists have already arrived in Mexico, and based on the offer of scheduled air seats, hotel reservations and other indicators, we are sure that we will have to reach the goal.
The Tianguis Turístico México 2023 is coming, what does it mean for you that it takes place in Mexico City and what data could you give us in advance?
Indeed, the 47th edition of the most important tourism fair in Latin America, the Tianguis Turístico México will mark a milestone in history as it is the first time it is held in Mexico City, the country's capital, as is the case with fairs in other nations: Madrid, London, Berlin, for example.
Mexico City far exceeds the needs required by an event of this relevance, not only because it has the best air connectivity in the country, as it has three international airports that are part of the Metropolitan Airport System: the International Airport of the City of Mexico, the “General Felipe Ángeles” International Airport and the Toluca International Airport; but also for its extensive hotel infrastructure and other tourist services.
For this edition, we are certain that it will far exceed expectations in terms of the number of buyers and business appointments, setting a significant precedent for tourism in Mexico.
Only 15,000 people are expected to attend, with the participation of 100 nations, around 3,000 buyers, and 80,000 business appointments. For those days, an economic spill of the order of 1,740 million pesos is expected, exceeding all the marks established in the 46 previous editions. So everyone is invited.
Sustainability is a priority for you today, would you like to share with our audience your vision of the initiatives you are carrying out?
Sustainability is no longer optional, it is indeed a substantive issue. We envision Mexico as the country of the future in terms of tourism, for the conservation of its biocultural heritage and for the practice of socially inclusive and economically fair tourism.
In this sense, as part of the Tourism Sector Program, there is a "Sustainable Mexico Reborn" strategy, through which projects and programs have been developed aimed at creating tourist circuits of social well-being and harmony with nature, as well as the strengthening of biocultural identity.
As part of this strategy, we have, for example, the Kuxatur program, which in the Mayan language means "living tourism", and has financing of 7.4 million dollars from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). English), in addition to the coordinated work with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
It is carried out in collaboration with implementing partners, in each of the destinations where it is applied: Friends of Sian Ka'an, in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve (Puerta del Cielo), in Quintana Roo; Conservation of the Insular Territory A.C (ISLA), in the “Sierra La Laguna” Biosphere Reserve, in Baja California Sur; and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), in Huatulco, Oaxaca.
I must point out that this is the first time that the tourism sector has accessed financing from an international organization in favor of biodiversity.