The decision to build the Santa Lucía airport instead of continuing with the airport at Texcoco will put Mexico at a competitive disadvantage in the global tourism market, claims the president of the World Trade and Tourism Council (WTTC).
Speaking at a tourism conference in Mexico City, Gloria Guevara said the effects of the decision will be seen in five or seven years.
The government’s plan to build the Santa Lucía airport – currently mired due to legal opposition – and upgrade the existing airports in Mexico City and Toluca will be insufficient to meet growing demand for air travel, she charged.
“It’s essential that we have an airport of the size [worthy] of a tourism power such as this country is – a world class one and with the technology it requires,” Guevara said.
President López Obrador canceled the previous government’s US $13-billion airport project at Texcoco, México state, on the grounds that it was corrupt, too expensive, not needed and being built on land that was sinking.
The WTTC president, who served as tourism secretary in the government of former president Felipe Calderón, said she understands “perfectly” and supports President López Obrador’s commitment to stamp out corruption but contended that his alternative airport plan won’t provide Mexico with the level of airport infrastructure it needs.
Asked about the government’s decision to disband the Tourism Promotion Council, Guevara said she was willing to collaborate with authorities to discuss alternative marketing strategies, adding that she was interested in meeting with Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard.
Ebrard announced in April that marketing the nation as a tourism destination would become a responsibility of Mexico’s embassies and consulates.
Before Guevara spoke, Tourism Secretary Miguel Torruco officially opened the fourth edition of the International Congress of the Women’s Association of Executives of Tourism Companies.
He acknowledged that there has been a “rethink” of tourism policy since the new government took office that has included measures that haven’t pleased everyone.
However, he highlighted that the number of tourists who visited Mexico in the first half of the year increased 7% compared to the same period last year.
Citing figures from statistics agency Inegi, Torruco said that around 22.1 million visitors came to the country between January and June, and spent US $11.9 billion while they were here, a 13.9% increase compared to the first half of 2018.
He said that tourism revenue declined 0.8% in the first quarter of 2019 but explained that the Easter vacation period this year fell in April whereas in 2018 it was in March.