Mexico is now the sixth most visited country in the world, the tourism secretary said yesterday, explaining that the upsurge in violent crime has not had an impact on visitor numbers.
“So far it [tourism] hasn’t fallen. It’s grown every year. International tourism [in Mexico] is growing at 12% annually, whereas in the world it’s growing at 7%,” Enrique de la Madrid told Milenio Television.
He also said that crime hasn’t deterred domestic tourists from visiting Mexico’s beaches, magical towns and largest cities.
The tourism industry contributes to 8.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) and generates 10 million jobs, or one in every 10 in the country, the tourism secretary said.
A record 39.3 million foreign visitors came to Mexico last year, an increase of 4.2 million compared to 2016. While here, they spent just over US $21.3 billion.
Paradoxically, 2017 was also Mexico’s most violent year in at least two decades, with more than 29,000 homicides.
De la Madrid said that around 60% of foreign visitors to Mexico come from the United States, while Canada is the second largest source country. He added that Mexico needs to attract more visitors from China and Europe to continue the strong growth in the sector.
But de la Madrid also highlighted the importance of domestic tourism, explaining that for every tourism peso spent in the country, 85 centavos are spent by Mexicans.
“There are 97 million of us [Mexican tourists] and we estimate that we make around 237 million trips [annually]. National tourism is the most important [market for the industry] and we have to complement it with international tourism,” he said.
With that in mind, the tourism secretary said that protecting the nation’s tourism destinations from crime was one of Mexico’s biggest challenges and, along with promoting tourism and combating safety misconceptions, should be a priority.
De la Madrid also defended a video he circulated via his social media accounts Saturday in which he urged young people to oppose “a closed [economic] model that turns its back on the world” and shared some reflections that he said he hoped would help them “make the best decision,” presumably at the ballot box on July 1.
He said that he made the video with his own funds, on his day off, and without any equipment from the Secretariat of Tourism.
De la Madrid also said that the video wasn’t a personal attack on leading presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador but rather the economic model he proposes.
“It worries me that Mexico will no longer be a country that’s part of the world, a closed and excluding Mexico in which nobody is going to do well. I tell young people that what’s at stake are their next 65 years,” he said.
Source: Milenio (sp)