Mexico is working on a marketing campaign to address the safety concerns of potential tourists.
The travel news website Skift reported that Tourism Secretary Enrique de la Madrid told a press conference that the Mexico Tourism Board is developing a safety narrative directed at residents of the United States, Mexico’s most lucrative source of tourism.
“We’re working on a campaign for the U.S. to stress that violence hasn’t impacted tourists,” he said.
A record 39.3 million foreign visitors came to Mexico last year, an increase of 4.2 million or 12% compared to the number of international arrivals in 2016. While here, they spent just over US $21.3 billion.
Arrivals were up 12.6% in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same period last year, indicating that Mexico is on track to record even higher visitor numbers this year.
De la Madrid said in February that the number of international tourists visiting Mexico annually could reach 50 million by 2021.
However, violent crime has affected some of Mexico’s most popular tourism hotspots, such as Los Cabos and La Paz in Baja California Sur and Cancún, Quintana Roo.
Skift said “it’s clear that some marketing resources in popular destinations have been diverted to addressing safety rather than highlighting sexier elements like beaches and cuisine.”
In Los Cabos — which recorded a murder rate of 110 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2017 — an emergency five-point security plan, backed by a US $50-million investment by the public and private sectors, was implemented last September.
Part of the plan included installing new surveillance cameras and implementing U.S. government safety training protocols, Skift said.
Since the plan was introduced, the number of violent incidents has decreased by 90%, Los Cabos Tourism Board CEO Rodrigo Esponda said, adding that tourism officials are already calling it a success.
He also said that “we have been sharing the plan and tools with other Mexican destinations.”
In contrast to the federal campaign de la Madrid flagged, Esponda said that Los Cabos will launch an initiative aimed at communicating “how Los Cabos is different from the rest of the Caribbean, not just Mexico,” rather than focusing on security and safety.
“Our marketing plans haven’t been altered because of the emergency five-point plan,” he said.
With regards to Cancún and Quintana Roo more broadly, De la Madrid said tourism authorities are using the Guest Assist mobile application to offer updated safety information and alerts to visitors.
Beyond violent crime, the tourism reputation of Cancún and the Riviera Maya has also been damaged by claims that tourists in all-inclusive resorts have been drugged or served tainted alcohol, causing blackouts, injuries and even deaths.
Late last year, the tourism secretary spearheaded a public relations campaign in the United States to combat concerns arising from the negative media coverage, saying in a television interview that “there is no evidence about tainted alcohol.”
Earlier this year, de la Madrid also launched a marketing campaign designed to attract Americans of Mexican descent and other Spanish-speaking United States residents to visit Mexico.
The tourism industry generates 8.7% of Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP) and provides employment for more than 10 million people.
Source: Skift (en)