Mexico’s tourism industry is gearing up for a strong 2022, according to multiple attendees at this year’s Tianguis Turistico, the nation’s international tourism conference. Some of the event’s promotional material, in fact, describes the industry’s rebound as a “rebirth.”
After being canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 45th edition of Tianguis took place in November in Merida, Yucatan, attracting more than 1,500 buyers from 42 nations and generating some 57,000 business appointments with exhibitors from around Mexico.
“It’s amazing to be here,” said Jorge Cabrejos, director of marketing for the state of Guanajuato’s Secretary of Tourism. “You see people being more enthusiastic, with more energy. Guanajuato’s tourism has been growing, and we’ve recovered all of our flights at the Guanajuato airport.”
Cabrejos added that the return of several in-person annual events in his state — including the Cervantes Festival in Guanajuato city and the International Balloon Festival in Leon, both of which were mostly virtual last year — have helped to boost arrival numbers in recent months.
Tianguis was also an opportunity for Yucatan’s tourism officials to showcase the state as a symbol of tourism recovery.
“It’s such an honor to be the host of Tianguis Turistico,” said Michelle Fridman, the state’s secretary of tourism, who noted that Yucatan has received the third-largest amount of new tourism investment in Mexico this year, placing it in the ranks of high-profile vacation destinations such as Nayarit, which was first in terms of tourism investment, and Baja California Sur, which was second.
Fridman expects continued growth, thanks in part to the greater number of flights available from the U.S.
“We have more connectivity than we did before the pandemic,” she said.
Even before the pandemic, the state of Yucatan witnessed a 19.2% growth in hotel rooms between 2014 and 2019. Among the latest news is next year’s debut of Xibalba, an ecological park created by Grupo Xcaret (the company that operates multiple attractions and hotels in Quintana Roo, including Hotel Xcaret Arte, which opened in July 2021), and La Casa de la Playa, which opens this month.
Francisco Gutierrez, CEO of the hotels division for Grupo Xcaret, said that the recent surge in travel to Mexico is timed well for his company’s development plans.
“We’re going to have a good winter,” he predicted. “We are very positive about the future, and we’re very positive about this year and next year. We are committed to opening, as part of this [growth] program, eight hotels in the next few years, a total of 5,300 rooms.”
Another major topic of discussion during Tianguis was the Tren Maya, or Mayan Train, which is to connect the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo through a 932-mile rail route with three classes of service, including a top-of-the-line option with sleeping cars. While the exact opening and completion dates have yet to be announced, some tourism officials in the region expressed optimism about the train’s effect on tourism.
“We hope it will be a good for us,” said Julio Manuel Pena, director of congresses and conventions for the Campeche Secretary of Tourism. “We’re expecting all the people who do tours and circuits to take it.”
Pena added that the Tren Maya will enhance his destination’s current marketing efforts, which have already brought positive growth in recent months.
Winter Travel to Mexico Will Boom in 2022
Representatives from other destinations and market segments expressed similar enthusiasm about the continued recovery of Mexico’s tourism industry.
This year was “far better” than 2019 for tourism arrivals in Nayarit, according to Richard Zarkin, public relations manager at the Riviera Nayarit Conventions and Visitors Bureau, thanks in part to the opening of new properties such as the Conrad Punta de Mita and One&Only Mandarina.
“It’s going to be a very good winter,” Zarkin said. “Airlines are [scheduling] more flights to leisure destinations. We expect a very good 2022, with the new hotels, the extra airlift and a better-managed pandemic worldwide.”
We expect a very good 2022, with the new hotels, the extra airlift and a better-managed pandemic worldwide.
Los Cabos is also expecting substantial growth, according to Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board.
“Everyone is looking forward to 2022 being a very positive year,” he said, explaining that arrivals will jump even more as Canadians and older U.S. travelers begin visiting again.
“In the United States, there are some sectors of the population that have not traveled yet,” he said. “There is a portion of the 60-plus market that has not come back. We need to provide reassurance to them.”
To that end, the Los Cabos Tourism Board aims to continue stressing health and safety.
“Our goal for 2022 is to position Los Cabos as the best place to travel for the safety protocols,” Esponda said.
Mexico’s hotel industry overall is seeing a strong rebound, at least in the leisure segment, according to Enrique Calderon, COO Of Grupo Posadas, which owns Fiesta Americana, Grand Fiesta Americana and Live Aqua, all of which are part of La Coleccion Resorts by Fiesta Americana.
“The pace of bookings for leisure travelers from the United States for places like Mexico and Punta Cana [in the Dominican Republic, where Posadas recently opened a Live Aqua property] is great, so I believe we’re going to have a great winter,” he said. “We have seen numbers above 2018, which was the best year in modern history, even though the Canadians and Europeans have barely started traveling, so I think it’s going to be even better next year. The only thing that I’m not so happy about is the big cities like Mexico City and Guadalajara, where it’s going to take time to recover. But the other cities in Mexico are doing well.”
Another organization that’s banking on growth is Mundo Imperial, the Acapulco-based hospitality and entertainment company that recently debuted the Wayam Mundo Imperial, a boutique hotel in Merida, and will open a new tennis complex in Acapulco in February — perfect timing for the next edition of Tianguis Turistico, which takes place in Acapulco on May 22-25, 2022.