DRIVEN by the improvement of direct connectivity and tourism facilitators, such as the visa system, Mexico expects the number of inbound travellers to surge from 35 million last year to about 42 million by 2020, said Maria Teresa Solis, Mexico’s vice-minister for tourism planning and policy.
The number of Asian visitors to Mexico is expected to more than double by 2020 from 500,000 last year.
“In Mexico, we are doing several things. We are working with Mexican destinations and with the private sector to strengthen a sustainability certifications,” she said in an exclusive interview with The Nation.
“We have one destination, called Huatulco, which has been awarded Earth Check Platinum, due to its high standards in terms of energy use [and] water and waste disposal.
“We are also doing the same with hotel, restaurant, small and micro businesses. They are getting sustainability certification,” she said.
The “S” mark will be bestowed by the tourism secretary on any business with good sustainable practices.
The United Nations is promoting 2017 as the international year for sustainable tourism development. Mexico has launched a major campaign, including radio and TV shows, to build awareness among the public.
“In Mexico, our key challenge is to catch up with the rapid growth of tourism in some destinations, such as Cancun, Riviera Nayarit and Los Cabos, especially in the allocation of public services to both tourists and local people, including water supply, light, housing and schools,” Solis said.
“We are building a new airport in Mexico City as the existing airport is insufficient. At a cost of US$9.1 billion [Bt315 billion], the new airport will be ready by 2020, and once fully completed, it will handle about 120 million passengers a year.
“The new airport is designed by well-known British and Mexican architects, respectively Norman Foster and Fernando Romero.”
About 35 million tourists came to Mexico last year, of whom 58 per cent were from the United States, 14 per cent from Central and South America, 11 per cent from Canada, 13 per cent from Europe and 4 per cent from the rest of the world, including Asia.
The growth of the tourism industry in Mexico, which represents 8.7 per cent of gross domestic product, will be driven by the country’s continuing improvement of direct connectivity and such things as easier visa processing, Solis said.
However, 85 per cent of the country’s tourism is by domestic travellers.
All Nippon Airways as of February 16 began operating direct flights between Tokyo and Mexico City.
China Southern as of April 11 began flying directly between Guangzhou and Mexico City.
Aeromexico will launch on May 27 a direct service between Seoul and Mexico City.
“It costs about $170 for the multiple visa to come to Thailand. However, Thai citizens will pay only $36 for a multiple visa to Mexico, which will be valid for six months,” she said.
Guillermo Eguiarte, director of the Mexico Tourism Board, said that considering flight connectivity and growth of the market, a growing middle class and more people heading to long-haul destinations, by 2020 Asia’s share of the Mexican tourism market would double to 8 per cent.
Thailand is a hub for the Southeast Asian market, he said.
“Our objective is to begin to improve awareness of Mexico and each destination with the local travel industry and partner with the main airlines that have flights to Mexico with fewer stops, such as ANA, Aeromexico and China Southern,” he said.
Meanwhile,Lourdes Berho has stepped down as CEO of the Mexico Tourism Board after less than a year in the position to return to the private sector, according to a statement from Sectur, Mexico's tourism ministry.
Tourism secretary Enrique de la Madrid named Hector Flores Santana as her replacement, effective May 1. Flores has held various executive positions with Sectur.
Berho is the founder of Alchemia, a marketing communications company focused on travel and tourism, innovation and sustainability. From 2004 to 2008, she was CEO of Conde Nast for Mexico and Latin America.
De la Madrid thanked Berho for her efforts to streamline the country's tourism-promotion efforts, citing high-profile events such as last month's Tianguis Turistico expo in Acapulco and the National Football League's return to Mexico City last fall.