Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco reported that from January to November 2022, a total of 18.4 million international tourists arrived in Mexico by air — 8.4% more than the figures registered in 2019.
Torruco also shared that the United States, Canada and Colombia sent the most international tourists to Mexico adding up to 13.9 million travelers. These numbers represent an increase of 43.6% compared to 2021.
Of the tourists that entered Mexico by air, more than 14 million arrived at the airports in Mexico’s main tourist destinations: Cancún International Airport, Mexico City International Airport and Los Cabos International Airport.
However, Torruco’s announcement didn’t tell the whole story. While international travelers arriving by air in 2022 surpassed those registered in 2021 by 51.7%, the total number of international tourists entering Mexico — by air, sea and land — hasn’t yet reached pre-pandemic figures, since tourists entering by land or sea are not accounted for in the statistics that he announced.
According to the national statistics center, INEGI, between January and November 2022, a total of 58 million international visitors entered the country — a figure still far from the 88 million visitors Mexico registered in 2019 before the pandemic.
However, the country has continued a positive trend in the recovery of the tourism industry and is part of a small group of countries that have received more international tourists than those registered in 2021.
According to the first edition of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Barometer on World Tourism 2023, international tourism to Mexico has increased by 13%. It was only surpassed by Romania, with reported growth of 25% and Turkey, with an increase of 40%. In 2022, the UNWTO also reported that Mexico ranked 29th in international tourism spending.
The UNWTO is a United Nations specialized agency, which is an international organization that coordinates its work with the United Nations. Other examples of UN specialized agencies are the World Health Organization and the International Monetary Fund.
While the total number of international tourists may not have yet reached pre-pandemic numbers, according to INEGI figures for January through November, the inflow of tourist money did surpass pre-pandemic numbers: revenue for the period was US $23.4 billion, an increase of US $3.3 billion from before the pandemic.
The financial recovery comes sooner than expected: forecasts had estimated that a full recovery in tourist expenditure wouldn’t come until the end of 2024.
The uptick in international tourist expenditures has been buoyed by two key factors, according to El Financiero: visitors have been spending more over the course of longer trips, and travel itself has become more expensive.
In the same way, the average spending of international travelers increased during the January to November period by 38.5% compared to 2019. Those numbers also exceeded the data gathered from January to November of 2021 by 23%.
Finally, during November 2022 alone, international tourists spent US $2.4 billion, a figure that surpassed the $2.1 billion spent in the same month of 2021 and greatly exceeds the $857 million spent in November 2020.
In its annual comparison, the country registered an increase of 16.9% in the foreign currency influx from international travelers, boosting a key industry for the recovery of the Mexican economy.
Head of the Tourism Research and Competitiveness Center of the Anáhuac University (Cicatur) Francisco Madrid told El Financiero that the increase in tourism income also shows the importance of the air sector, which has performed well over the past year.
Globally, the UNWTO foresees a “good year” for the tourism industry “while still facing various challenges, such as the economic situation and the continuing geopolitical uncertainty,” UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili said in the report.