A record number of international tourists visited Mexico in the first quarter of 2018, the federal Tourism Secretariat (Sectur) has announced.
Sectur said in a statement that 10.6 million people came to the country in the first three months of the year, 12.6% more than the 9.4 million tourists who visited in the same period last year.
The amount of money those tourists spent while they were here increased by 7.2% in the first quarter to just over US $6.2 billion compared to just over US $5.8 billion in the same period of 2017.
However, the average expenditure per tourist dropped by 4.4% to US $533.40 compared to US $558 last year.
March was a particularly good month for tourism, with four million international visitors, 14.6% more than the same month last year, and their spending was up more than in the previous two months.
They spent US $2.36 billion in March, 13.8% more than the US $2.07 billion spent in March 2017. Average spending was also up but only by the slimmest of margins, increasing by US $0.20 or 0.04% to US $539.60.
Tourism Secretary Enrique de la Madrid said last week that Mexico is now the sixth most visited country in the world and explained that an upsurge in violent crime had not had an impact on visitor numbers.
He also said that international tourism is growing at 12% annually compared to 7% in the rest of the world and that the tourism industry contributes to 8.8% of gross domestic product (GDP).
Just over 39 million international visitors came to Mexico last year but if the number of visitors recorded in the first quarter is maintained, this year will see the 40-million barrier broken for the first time.
De la Madrid said in February that the number of international tourists visiting Mexico annually could reach 50 million by 2021, which would likely make the country the world’s fifth most visited.
Despite the strong growth, one challenge that the government continues to face despite efforts to overcome it is diversification of the tourism sector.
Sectur data showed that 92.1% of all international tourist arrivals by air in January were at just seven airports.
Source: El Financiero (sp)