Tourism will no longer be “a source of excessive profits,” Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco told representatives of the sector during a virtual conference.
Speaking at the National Tourism Business Council (CNET) “New Era of Tourism” conference, Torruco said that the coronavirus-induced health and economic crisis has exposed the “decadence of the traditional models” in place in the tourism sector.
He charged that over a period of many years, tourism policies implemented by past governments and private investment in the sector caused “marginalization, poverty and environmental degradation” at the same time as enormous profits were being made.
Torruco also said that the pandemic had exposed the “dark reality” of the tourism sector, highlighting that a lot of employees lack job security and benefits and that some companies are in a precarious financial position.
The tourism minister said the coronavirus crisis provided an opportunity to “re-define” the sector to make it more innovative and ensure that it brings benefits rather than harm to local communities and environments.
“It’s fundamental for researchers, academics, business people and authorities to be sensitive to issues related to conservation and preservation of natural resources, social and community well-being, inclusion and the urgency to build a better Mexico,” he said.
Separately, Torruco last week submitted a proposal to the Health Ministry arguing that tourism should be declared an essential activity.
In an interview with the news website La Silla Rota, CNET president Braulio Arsuaga said that he supported the minister’s proposal, asserting that it will help to reactivate the economy.
He said that the decision to designate mining, construction and automotive production as essential activities had helped the economies in northern states and those of the Bajío region but wouldn’t do much for coastal tourism destinations.
Attracting tourists, at least in the short term, is likely to be difficult as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to show steady growth.
According to Alejandro Zozaya, president of the travel and hospitality conglomerate Apple Leisure Group, a perception that the government has managed the coronavirus crisis poorly has hurt Mexico’s image as a tourist destination and makes it less likely that the tourism sector will recover quickly.
While the domestic market is important for tourism, international travelers generate a greater economic spillover and support jobs in destinations such as Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur, Zozaya said.
With both domestic and international tourism coming to a virtual standstill due to the pandemic, revenue in the sector fell 93.7% in April, according to data from the national statistics agency Inegi.
Zozaya charged that the government hasn’t done enough to support tourism amid the pandemic, highlighting that it has chosen to pour funds into infrastructure projects such as the Maya Train, the new Mexico City airport and a new refinery on the Tabasco coast.
“It’s had other priorities, they’ve taken away resources [from tourism]. The last thing we need are new infrastructure projects,” he said.