Tourism is an important economic engine. It generates 2.5 million direct jobs and over 5 million indirect jobs, making it the third largest source of foreign currency for the country and a crucial asset in the fight against poverty. The objective in 2013 is not about record numbers, but about consolidating the tourism industry and ensuring rapid growth throughout the sector, all with a vision for sustainability. The industry's focus has broadened to include new emerging markets such as Russia, China, Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina. The reason is simple; in 2007, 69.5% of foreign tourists came from the US, whereas that number decreased to 55% in 2012. The other 45% was comprised mainly of Colombians, Argentines, Russians, Brazilians, and Chinese. Tourists from those countries also generally spend more time in Mexico on average. The Chinese, for example, stay an average of one-and-a-half weeks and spend an average of $1,800 to $2,000 per capita, not including airplane tickets. Tourists from the other aforementioned countries spend an average of $750 per head. There were nearly 50,000 Chinese visitors in 2012, an increase of 27%. Considering this potential, Brazil and Mexico recently agreed to eliminate visas between the two countries, a measure that is expected to significantly increase tourist traffic between the two countries and attract up to 250,000 Brazilian tourists to Mexico in 2012. It signifies an opportunity to develop a tourist sector that is expanding beyond just sun and beach tourism.
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It is estimated that the countries that recorded the highest figures in attracting international tourists were Austria, Hong Kong, and Russia. Mexico is estimated to have received 23.1 million tourists, down from 23.4 million in 2011, making it 10th in the world in terms of total tourist volume. There was a 1.9% increase in the number of total visitors to Mexico in 2012, and a 4.9% increase in air tourism, representing a total of 11.4 million visitors. There was also a 7.2% increase in total expenditure by foreign visitors in Mexico in 2012, reaching over $12.7 billion. With the creation of a Tourism Cabinet that will be presided over by the Federal Executive Branch, Mexico will mobilize its efforts to stimulate the industry. According to the National Tourism Business Council (CNET) more than $4.6 billion worth of investments has been allocated for 2013, which means that the projects that were halted during the most recent economic crisis can be restarted and completed. The amount of total investments in accord with CNET in 2012 amounted to $2.6 billion.
Special Contribution by Alejandro Arvizu, Lead Partner of Tourism at PwC Mexico