There ought to be celebrations in Acapulco this week when the tourist industry gathers for its annual conference, Tianguis Turístico.
Mexico’s biggest tourism fair, which this year expects 100 foreign and 120 domestic buyers of travel-related products, follows a year in which the industry bounced back in a big way after some years of economic and security woes.
A record 29.1 million visitors arrived in 2014, an increase of 20.5% over the previous year, a big turnaround after some dismal years following the 2.5% decline recorded in 2009.
It is also significant in relation to the growth recorded during much of the last 30 years, when Mexico saw only modest increases in tourism. Its 1.1% growth during that period was shadowed by Turkey with 11.6%, Hong Kong with 8.6% and Malaysia with 7.8%, for example.
Another gratifying figure for the industry was in the estimated amount of money spent by visitors last year, a total of US $16 billion, a massive increase over annual revenues generated between 2000 and 2012, which fluctuated between $8 billion and just over $13 billion.
Last year’s numbers are expected to move Mexico into 12th place from 15th on the list of the world’s most-visited countries.
Although tourism promotion efforts have widened their geographic focus since the economic downturn of 2009, the United States continues to be the principal source of visitors. And with a stronger economy and lower fuel prices more Americans are on the way.
Their numbers were up 11.8% last year and many more are expected in 2015, particularly with the rise in the value of the dollar against the peso.
But by broadening marketing efforts, the Mexican Tourism Promotion Council (CPTM) has succeeded in attracting more visitors from Canada, the United Kingdom, Colombia, Spain and Brazil, all of which have seen double-digit increases.
Improved security in places such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez have also led to a recovery in tourism on the U.S. border; nearly half of all international visitors arrive by land.
But it’s those who arrive by air that bring the most money: last year they spent $950 each on average. For that reason, the CPTM has concentrated on marketing golf, luxury tourism and gastronomical and cultural experiences to visitors with higher disposable income.
Campaigns in the U.S. have encouraged baby-boomers and seniors to visit cultural destinations such as San Miguel de Allende.
Meetings and conferences are another market and the CPTM’s 23 offices around the world have been promoting Mexico’s 70 convention centers.
While 2014 appears to have been a good year, expectations are that 2015 will be even better. The owner of the boutique hotel Rosas & Xocolate in Mérida, Yucatán, says he just saw the best January ever in the hotel’s five years of operation.
Carol Kolozs said February was the same and March is looking very good. Good enough, in fact, that the hotel will expand from 17 to 54 rooms and is looking to open another property elsewhere in the country.
Source: Milenio (sp)