Rising insecurity is the only thing that could slow down the growth of Mexico’s ascendant tourism industry, said Tourism Secretary Enrique de la Madrid this week while announcing a plan to address rising violence in three destinations.
The Secretariat of Tourism (Sectur) will roll out trial security programs over the next three weeks in Los Cabos, Cancún and Acapulco, all destinations that have been affected by recent upsurges in violent crime.
“They are the destinations that concern us most at the moment because of the impact they have on [Mexico’s] image abroad as insecurity is a very sensitive matter for tourism,” de la Madrid told the media organization Milenio.
But the government will not fund the initiative on its own.
In coordination with the Secretariat of the Interior (Segob), Sectur will deploy new tourism police for the program but is seeking the participation of the business community, state and municipal governments as well as citizens who live in the tourist regions to help pay for it.
De la Madrid stressed that the government would not be able to fund the program on its own.
“It’s going to require resources and business owners are going to have to provide them but in exchange for that, governments have to be more open, transparent, inclusive and allow the business world, through already existing citizen councils, to oversee that commitments are met.”
De la Madrid also emphasized that the rule of law and political institutions need to be strengthened to combat the worrying crime levels.
The Tourism Secretary suggested that modifications to the penal system — that enable criminals found in possession of military-style weapons to escape preventative custody or to be subsequently released from custody due to lawyers’ objections related to violations of due process — have contributed to the rise of violence.
That issue needs to be addressed as it also contributes to crime that affects Mexico’s tourist destinations, he insisted.
Still, Sectur estimates that income from tourism will increase by around 11% this year, adding a further US $2 billion to the $21 billion economic spillover brought in by tourism in 2017.
De la Madrid — considered likely to follow in the footsteps of his father, Miguel de la Madrid, and seek nomination as a presidential candidate — stated that approximately nine million Mexicans are employed either directly or indirectly by the tourism industry and 35 million foreign visitors came to Mexico last year.
However, the industry remains heavily dependent on domestic tourism.
Of every peso spent in the tourism sector, de la Madrid says 85 centavos are spent by Mexicans.
Mexico recently overtook Turkey to become the world’s eighth most popular tourist destination and is just 600,000 annual visitors behind seventh-placed United Kingdom.
Source: Milenio (sp)