Puerto Vallarta Puerto Vallarta: half of hotel beds are located in just eight Mexican cities.

Mexican tourism: it’s time for a new focus

OECD says tourism's growth has not kept up with the global economy

Strong visitor numbers have launched Mexico back into the top 10 tourist destinations in the world but growth of the country’s tourism sector has not been what it should in the view of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)


With that in mind, the OECD has recommended the development of a new strategic focus.

During the past decade, the rate of growth of tourism in Mexico has fallen short of the overall growth in the world economy, explained OECD secretary general José Ángel Gurría yesterday during the presentation of the organization’s Review of Tourism Policy in Mexico.

“The fact is that tourism and travel have encountered various difficulties including economic problems in countries that are significant sources of visitors to Mexico, natural disasters linked to climate change, public health warnings and insecurity in several regions of the country.”

The secretary general observed that tourism in Mexico is also facing structural challenges, as the sector’s success has been based on the development of large resorts in major coastal destinations.

“Half of all hotel beds in Mexico are in resorts in just eight cities, concentrating the effects of tourism in a handful of geographical locations. However, this model is becoming vulnerable to changing demand patterns and environmental concerns,” he said.

“The Mexican tourism model must change in order to be able to compete in a changing tourism market and to support more inclusive, sustainable growth. This would require that government agencies develop better links with a more diverse, segmented group of small enterprises and micro-businesses, as well as policies to support smaller-scale projects.”


Gurría continued by stating that Mexico must increase the harmonization of transportation and tourism policies from point of origin to point of destination, invest in an integrated national transportation system with a competitive infrastructure serving new destinations and press on with work to liberalize aviation agreements.

To improve support for micro, small and medium-sized businesses and enterprises, it is important to encourage innovation in the available tourist products and services by focusing on investment and funding, he added.

Gurría pointed out that better tourism policies in Mexico will directly benefit the Mexican people.

The federal Tourism Secretary reported that during the last four years the number of international tourists has increased by 50%. The tourism industry now generates 8.7% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

“Tourism is going through its best moments but now we must reflect on what needs to be done to strengthen it,” said Enrique de la Madrid.

The secretary added that 35 million visitors arrived by plane from abroad last year, an increase of close to 12%, while total tourism revenues reached US $19 billion.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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  • Henry Wilson

    a piece of unsolicted advice from a frequent traveler in mexico, and much of latin america: try teaching your employees the concept of customer service. and more importantly, making the provsion of customer service a requirement of employment retention. conversation with a mexican resort official on my first trip to cancun: “what is the most difficult aspect of your job? answer: “teaching our workers, most who come from rural small towns and cities, the importance of treating our customers with respect, courtesy and politeness. concepts totally unknown in their culture.”

  • Mike Lyle

    As a traveler through Mexico on my way to other venues, my consternation with tourism here in Mexico is not directed at the national level, but at the local level of my experience.

    Mexican people don’t grasp the concept that each word they speak in Spanish is an enhancement, not a devaluation, of my experience. I am being pressed to learn while abroad, and this is an important occurrence I am more than willing to share with friends and family at home.

    “I learned a bit of Spanish” can be culturally translated as, “I am advancing in my knowledge of the world and its many cultures. Thus, I am superior — and not only superior, but a guide — to those of you who have not experienced travel abroad as I have.”

    This is egoist gold!

    So, I say transcend the obvious attempt to be understood in terms of English — which is my native tongue — and invite the tourist to learn a word or two of Spanish!

    We’re proud to have learned something, just as everyone in the world is proud to have learned. Keep pushing the differences, rather than the similarities. This is what makes life exciting, and my short visit “vale la pena”!

    • miabeach

      It’s all about you.

      • rangerrandy

        …sounds about right

  • Hailey Mannering

    Canadian and US press are giving many potential tourists the false impression that #all# of Mexico is too dangerous to visit. Perhaps Mexico should promote more the many safe places, including the many beautiful colonial towns and cities.

    • miabeach

      Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries on earth. When I want to learn about vicious murders I read about them right here in the Mexican news outlets because the American press only reports about a vulgar former president of Mexico who hates gringos like Donald Trump and me. Just so you know, not all of Syria is dangerous, not all of Sudan is dangerous, not all of Yemen is dangerous…

      • Hailey Mannering

        There´s no reason why tourists or foreign residents can´t enjoy those parts of Mexico which are safe. Yucatan state is safer than all but about 2 US states. Merida is the safest metro of over a million in Mexico or USA. I´ve spent a lot of time in Florida and it´s less safe than Yucatan state.

        • notfromhere

          Sssh keep Yucatan our secret please.

  • miabeach

    Once I learned that most of Latin American including Mexico refuses to sanitize their waste water I stopped vacationing there. There’s almost no sewage treatment plants anywhere south of the Texas border. Sewage is dealt with by dumping raw sewage into the nearest body of water. It’s why they are the third world. Don’t drink tap water in Latin America except in Bogota.

    • Vernon King

      I live in Mexico and our waste water goes thru a water treatment plant before it goes into Lake Chapala near Guadalajara. The reason you can’t drink the water is its not on all all the time. We have large tanks to store water above and below ground and folks take turns getting water. This means since the water goes off you should not drink the water because the pipes could get contaminated from breaks in the pipes . It has nothing to do quality of water but the method of distribution. Your gloom and doom post is so typical and sad. Sorry you will miss a beautiful country but maybe you should stay in the US where you are safe.

      • kallen

        You’re both correct. Chapala is the exception because there are lots of gringos there. Elsewhere it is as miabeach said. For example, in my local in Baja a lot of sewage ends up in the ocean. A small cut a few years back led to a major infection. Nobody I know including the Mexicans drink water out of the tap.

    • AM

      Still, 35 million people don’t think so. I travel to Mexico at least twice a year. You should probably stay where you are and never leave. Obviously, travel is not for you.

  • Pat. Wilson

    If I have any questions re. my beloved Mexico, I will just ask the Tourista Miabeach. She seems to know it all. We have lived there for years & love it. We drink from our water faucet – just have a filter system thatworks just. fine. Our neighbors, who are Mexicans, are great &.very helpful to us.. Unless you live. In. Mexico & know what you are talking about, please do not comment. Your comments are meaningless..

  • kallen

    Small, sustainable development is the way to go and it seems like Mexico may finally be embracing that – I certainly hope so. The big coastal resorts are nice in the beginning but they soon turn into dirty, crime ridden slum towns and the beauty that was there never returns.

  • Rex Justin

    Comparing Mexico to any Global Market is not possible because of Mexico’s Culture, Social, and Economic differences. First and foremost, there is the Ejido, Fideicomiso, Army Police, excessive poverty, Criminal Gangs, extreme Corruption, lack of Civil Engineering Standards in Building Codes, Lack of Education Facilities for the excessively impoverished, poor infrastructure, lack of Maintenance of existing Buildings and public spaces, ….etc.

    If and when Mexico can function like it’s Comparable Global Counterparts, only then will it be a fair comparison.

    • Did you just describe most Eastern European governments, or Mexico….

  • rangerrandy

    Moved my family(Mexican) to Cancun from Acapulco in the late 80’s where foreign tourist business was taking a nose dive.
    We opened a small business here in Cancun in one of the new malls and did well for a few years…then the bot
    tom fell out for most of us small business owners because most of the hotels in the hotel zone became all-inclusive. The local economy has continued to decline especially in the downtown areas mostly because of this practice of holding their clients inside the all inclusive hotels. This practice by the govt.of allowing these chain type hotels to offer everything their customers may require in their
    hotels is playing havoc on individual small business owners……

  • alance

    Mexico should spend a billion USD to promote medical and dental tourism from Chetumal to Tijuana. There is a huge price differential between medical and dental care between the United States and Mexico in private hospitals and clinics. The medical tourist can spend a few weeks at a medical spa and resort at bargain prices and save a fortune.

    The Indian medical tourism industry in contrast to Mexico will be $8 billion by 2020. The Indian Medical Tourism market is expected to grow from its current size of USD 3 billion to USD 7-8 billion by 2020.