Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Travel alerts, insecurity among factors blamed for sharp decline in US tourism

Travel to Mexico by United States citizens declined sharply in April, a result of factors such as U.S. travel alerts and deteriorating security, according to two tourism industry experts.

Data from the immigration unit of the Interior Secretariat (Segob) shows that 845,000 United States visitors arrived in Mexico by plane in April, 6.8% less than the 906,000 who flew into the country in the same month last year.

More concerning for Mexico, however, is that it was the first time that visitor numbers from the United States have gone backwards for a single month from one year to the next since October 2014.

In addition, it was the biggest monthly year-on-year decline since July 2011, when U.S. tourist numbers fell by 6.9% compared to the same month of the previous year.

Overall, international tourism has been trending upwards in recent years, with a record 39.3 million foreign visitors coming to Mexico last year.

One reason behind the decline in U.S. tourist numbers in April was something that Mexico had no control over: Holy Week fell in March this year.

Francisco Madrid, director of the faculty of tourism and gastronomy at Anáhuac University, highlighted that factor but also said that tourism growth among United States visitors had slowed during the entire first four months of the year.

The deceleration between January and April is related to advisories issued by the United States Department of State, Madrid told the newspaper El Universal.

Armando Bojórquez, president of the travel agency franchise network Viajes Bojórquez, told El Universal that he didn’t believe that Holy Week falling in March had impacted too much on the April downturn because U.S. tourists don’t tend to travel as much during vacation periods as those from other countries.

United States travel alerts, news of violent crime and insecurity in Mexico and statements by U.S. President Donald Trump had a bigger impact on the reduction of tourists in April, he charged, adding that the downturn is worrying.

A travel alert issued last August cited increased criminal activity in Baja California, Baja California Sur, Chiapas, Colima, Guerrero, Quintana Roo and Veracruz, while a new warning in January coincided with the introduction of a four-tier alert system and advised U.S. travelers not to travel to five states: Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas.

However, the same alert eased restrictions on tourism destinations including Cancún and Los Cabos, which was seized upon by the federal Tourism Secretariat.

According to Tourism Secretary Enrique de la Madrid, the weakening of the peso compared to the US dollar could help stimulate greater arrivals from the United States. The US dollar is now trading at close to 20 pesos.

Visitors from Mexico’s northern neighbor have long made up six out of every 10 international tourists to Mexico but de la Madrid has set a goal of reaching a point in the future when no more than half of all foreign tourists come from the United States.

Increasing tourism promotion in other markets such as the rest of Latin America, Europe and Asia will be key.

De la Madrid said in February that Mexico could hit 50 million international visitors annually by 2021 and earlier this month he said that the country is now the sixth most visited in the world. The upsurge in violent crime had not had an impact on visitor numbers, he said.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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