Travel to Mexico continues to thrive, according to a recent report
by the Tourism Secretariat, or Sectur.
During the first four months of 2004, an estimated 6.8 million
international tourists traveled to Mexico, an increase of 12.7
percent over the same period last year. The increase generated more
than $3.8 million in revenues, about 14.6 percent more than the
first four months of 2003.
In addition to the estimated 6.8 million, Mexico saw the arrival
of about 2.8 million tourists who arrived on cruise ships during
the first four months of 2004, a 1.5 percent increase from the same
period in 2003. Those cruise travelers this year spent an estimated
6.6 percent more this year over 2003.
During the same period, 42,564 international flights arrived in
Mexico, 12.4 percent more than the number registered from January
through April of 2003. These flights carried a total of 4.2 million
international tourists, representing a 16.1 percent increase over
the same period in 2003. The rest of the 6.8 million tourists
arrived by car or bus.
The average occupancy rate in Mexico’s hotels during the same
period was 58.9 percent, 3.09 percent higher compared to the same
period in 2003.
Mexico currently ranks 8th in the number of international
visitors and 10th in international tourism revenues, according to
the World Tourism Organization.
The report, however, did not break down international tourists
by nationality. But most international travelers to Mexico come
from the U.S., and nearly half of the approximately $53 million
approved for tourism promotion this year is devoted to campaigns in
the U.S. and Canada.
At the recent Tianguis conference in Acapulco, Rodolfo Elizondo
Torres, Mexico’s tourism secretary, said one goal is to attract
more Hispanic-Americans in regions close to the border, such as
Southern California and Texas, where an estimated 14 million
Mexican-Americans live. U.S. Census figures show the total Hispanic
population in the U.S. has grown 50 percent over the past five
years to about 38.8 million, representing the largest minority
group in the country.
Last month the Mexico Tourism Board unveiled a new
Spanish-language advertising campaign targeting the U.S. Hispanic
market, with television ads promoting the tag line, “Conoce a
Mexico de la major manera & de vacaciones” or “The best way to
visit Mexico is on vacation.”
“Many Mexicans have not returned to their country of origin in
years, and many Americans of Mexican origin have never even visited
Mexico,” said Martha Varela, director of the Mexico Tourism Board
office in Chicago. “The purpose of the greater focus on the U.S.
Hispanic market is to make discovering or rediscovering Mexico
easier than ever.”