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Mexico 2014 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to HE Claudia Ruiz Massieu Salinas, Secretary of Tourism, on diversifying the tourism offering nationwide beyond sun and sea into the cultural and commercial realms.

Claudia Ruiz Massieu Salinas
BIOGRAPHY
Born in 1972, Claudia Ruiz Massieu Salinas has an educational background in Law, and is currently the Secretary of Tourism. Between 2003 and 2006 she was Federal Representative in the 59th Session, President of the Justice and Human Rights Commission, and Secretary to the Government Commission. Between 2009 and 2012 she was Federal Representative in the 61st Session, also continuing her role as Secretary to the Government Commission. She also has experience in public service. Between 2006 and 2008, she was Planning, Development and Institutional Innovation Coordinator for the Attorney General (PGR), and in 2006 was Coordinator of Advisors to the Executive Secretariat for the National Security System of the Secretariat of Federal Public Security (SSP).

What were the main development strategies of the Secretariat of Tourism in 2013?

In 2013, we focused on diversifying Mexico's tourism offering for the international community, targeting specific campaigns of certain touristic segments. We have increased financial resources in touristic promotion, given its strategic importance for the economy; it attracts investment, and boosts infrastructure, while generating employment. Therefore, our strategies emphasized the diversification of the offer, the reinforcement of the industry as a strategic sector for the economy and boosted growth. A globally intensified tourism industry means increased competition, whereby diversification is key to success. We have conducted extensive research into identifying the most competitive destinations of our country to better develop an international promotion strategy based on connectivity, product innovation, diversification, human capacity, and so forth. This study also enabled us to better target investment and the allocation of economic resources. For example, we developed a portfolio of future investments, and tourism was included for the first time in the National Infrastructure Plan, which comprises six different economic sectors. This plan foresees a total investment of Ps7.7 billion–Ps181 million for the tourism industry. The overall goal is to continue growing as an international tourism destination. For this reason, we want to boost the development of tourism infrastructure aimed at regionally connecting destinations and boosting regional development. In this context, we are the only economic sector in the National Infrastructure Plan that articulates the other five, and this plan will definitely make us more competitive, closing regional, economic, and social gaps in our country and among society. For example, the program has a strong focus on the southeast of Mexico, a region that lags behind most others, but one that also has great touristic potential. Also, we plan to develop archeological touristic destinations within our country with a common and joint strategy, which has never been done before. These efforts are aimed at identifying the real touristic potential of each region and entity, as well as the particular segment, and determining how we can better channel investment to ensure their development. For example, one of the segments of greater potential is MICE tourism, and we foresee the development of promotional campaigns and the construction of infrastructure aimed at strengthening Mexico's role in this tourism sector. Meanwhile, in 2013 we exceeded our historic best year of 2008 in terms of revenues and tourist arrivals. In 1Q2014 we had a 15% rise in foreign exchange, a 17% increase in the arrival of international tourists, an 11% increase in tourist arrivals by air, and a 7.5% increase in visitor expenditure.

In which international markets is Mexico interested in promoting its tourism offering?

Our key market, due to its sheer proximity, is the US, followed by Spain and the UK. However, we are making increasing efforts to promote Mexico in the emerging markets of Southeast Asia, an area of significance for Mexico from an economic and foreign affairs perspective. There are markets in Asia like Japan, in which we already have a consolidated position; last year's tourist figures exceeded 100,000. Therefore, we can mention two main strategic lines in our international strategy; to further growth in our consolidated markets and also to open new ones, especially in Asia, with China being one of the main countries. There we plan to implement a more aggressive promotional campaign, including our presence in the main events in the sector, and build up a stronger image of our country, including strategic partnerships with tourism agents. In addition, Russia and Australia are two other markets of considerable interest.