Mexico has edged out Turkey to become the world’s eighth most popular tourist destination, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Mexico moved up from ninth place in the organization’s World Tourism Barometer after it received 35 million visitors last year, compared to Turkey’s 28.3 million.
That country’s political and security crises last year negatively impacted its tourist industry. That, along with a 9% increase in the number of foreign visitors to Mexico, propelled it into eighth place.
Mexico dropped to 15th place in 2013 due to its own security crisis, but the industry has been steadily recovering since.
Last year’s visitor numbers positioned Mexico very close to seventh-place United Kingdom, which received 600,000 more visitors than Mexico.
The federal government has stated it expects to enter the top five soon, given that foreign visitor numbers are up 50% since 2012.
Mexico’s tourism revenues were also up last year, rising to US $19.6 billion, which means its ranking in that respect moved from 16th to 14th.
The federal Tourism Secretariat has stated that it has worked toward providing travellers with activities and attractions that encourage them to extend their stay and, in consequence, generate more revenue for the industry.
It has expressed confidence that those revenues will overtake remittances from Mexicans working abroad in about three years’ time.
Although fears have been expressed in the tourism industry over the negative impact of growing violence in certain parts of the country, a survey of travel agents last month found that most saw their Mexico business increase during the past year.
This, said the report on the Travel Market Report website, came in spite of the politics, the crime, the lingering softness of the economy and the growth of competing destinations such as Cuba and Central America.
About 45% of the 447 agents who responded to the survey said Mexico sales were up more than 5%. Fully 57% said sales were within a range of -5% to +5% compared to the previous year.
Agents cited reduced fears over the zika virus as one reason for improved sales, but suggested Mexico remains a strong draw. “Our clients love Mexico and its people, and return again and again and again.”
Best performing markets were the Riviera Maya, Cancún, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit.
Many of those who didn’t want to go to Mexico chose the Caribbean or Hawaii instead.