Mexico Tourism Strong

Stats from Sectur are encouraging

By: Lisa Jennings

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.”