Almost 1.4 million foreign visitors came to Mexico in July, the highest level since March, but numbers were still way down compared to the same month last year.
Just over 1.39 million international tourists visited during the month, according to the national statistics institute Inegi, 66.6% fewer than a year ago. Their spending in Mexico totaled US $490.4 million, a decline of 77.4% compared to July 2019.
While visitor numbers and tourism revenue in July were both very low compared to a year ago, they were considerably higher than figures for previous months.
Foreign visitor numbers declined from about 3.8 million in February to 2.8 million in March before plummeting to just 800,000 in April. They recovered slightly to 900,000 in May and 1 million in June but remained more than 70% lower than in the same months of 2019.
Unlike many other countries, Mexico hasn’t prevented air travelers from entering the country during the coronavirus pandemic nor forced them to go into quarantine.
Tourism revenue declined from more than $2.3 billion in February to almost $1.4 billion in March before slumping to just $131 million in April, a 94% decline compared to the same month last year. Revenue recovered slightly in May and June to $154 million and $231 million, respectively, but tourism income was still around 90% lower than the same months of 2019.
In the first seven months of 2020, visitor numbers were 11.9 million lower than in the same period of 2019 and tourism revenue was down more than $8.2 billion, according to Inegi data.
Cruise ships, which dock in ports including Acapulco, Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta, haven’t brought any passengers to Mexico for months.
The tourism industry, which normally contributes almost 10% of GDP, has been decimated by the pandemic and is likely to take years to recover.
Embarrassing gaffes with the official tourism portal Visit México – it was taken down in July, apparently for lack of payment, before the site reappeared in August with a series of mistranslated place names – haven’t helped Mexico’s image as it seeks to attract visitors even as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
In light of the sharp downturn in tourism over the past several months, the Mexican Federation of Tourism Associations (Fematur) called on authorities to provide financial support to the sector.
“The harshness [and] severity … of the dramatic decline in tourism activity recorded and reported by Inegi during the months of the pandemic should serve [as a reminder] to financial authorities to reconsider the need to design a special support program for the tourism industry,” Fematur said in a report.
The federation said that Mexico needs tourism to alleviate the economic crisis, which it predicted would worsen in the coming months.
Many analysts are forecasting that the economy will contract about 10% in 2020, although the Bank of México said in late August that GDP could decline 12.8% in a worst-case scenario.
Source: El Economista (sp)