STILL ON THE RISE

Mexico 2018 | TOURISM | REVIEW

Despite its international prominence, Mexico is finding ways to further boost its tourism sector, consistently boosting its position as one of the most visited countries in the world.

The Mexican tourism sector has long been a leader not only in the region but around the world. The industry has long acted as a staple to the economy, and though domestic politics and events occasionally affect numbers, international tourists remain drawn to the country, as the sector remains one of the most resilient. With extraordinary and diverse landscapes coupled with some of the world's best marketing and tourism design, it is no wonder Mexico consistently ranks among the most visited countries worldwide.

According to the World Bank, the number of arrivals to Mexico has increased substantially over the last couple of years. In just three years, Mexico saw an increase in tourist arrivals by more than 10 million, from 24.2 million in 2013 to 35.1 million in 2016, a 45% increase. In February 2018, the Yucatan Times reported that the secretary of tourism, Enrique de la Madrid, anticipated another considerable increase for 2018, with 39 million tourists visiting the country, a 60% increase since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in 2012.

The rapid increase in tourists has brought numerous benefits to the country. In recent years, foreign currency revenue has risen at an average annual rate of 10.9%, considerably greater than the average annual increase during previous two administrations, 1.5% and 0.06%, respectively.

Unsurprisingly, Mexico's massive tourism sector provides for a considerable portion of GDP. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the total contribution of the sector to GDP was MXN3.1 trillion, or 16% of GDP. That contribution is expected to grow by 3.7% for 2017, reaching MXN3.2 trillion. The WTTC forecasts that over the next 10 years, the CAGR will be 3%, bringing it to 17.2% of GDP at MXN4.3 trillion.

The sector also makes significant contributions to employment. The WTTC reported the sector made a total contribution to employment with nearly 8.66 million jobs in 2016, representing just under 17% of total employment. For 2017, the figures are expected to have increased by 0.8% to 8.72 million jobs. The WTTC predicts an even greater annual rise throughout the next decade, with the sector estimated to contribute over 10.6 million jobs by 2027, representing 18.1% of total employment and a 2% per annum increase.

Though the country can hardly be characterized as needing to improve its tourism sector, a little bit of diversification might go a long way. According to the secretary of tourism, 92.1% of all international arrivals by air landed in beach cities, specifically Cozumel, Los Cabos, Monterrey, Cancún, Guadalajara, and Puerto Vallarta. The country has great potential in attracting other kinds of tourists, such as medical, religious, adventure, and gastronomy tourists. Mexico could benefit greatly by offering more direct international flights to towns like Chiapas, Morelos, Guanajuato, and Puebla, cities with unique histories and cultures and landscapes far removed from traditional beach destinations.

While the country is working to diversify its offerings, it is also revamping its strategies for tourism investment models. The government has recently been in talks regarding public-private partnerships with firms based in the country on projects that will help develop infrastructure projects related to tourism. The country sees a developed tourism sector as being able to support other sectors of the economy and promoting overall development.

TBY recently sat down with Juan Antonio Hernández, Chairman of Grupo Autofín, to learn how the company plans to boost the attractiveness of Acapulco. “At this moment, we are working on a project to develop attractions that could break three or four Guinness World Records by December 2018. If we focus on Acapulco as a destination for extreme and extraordinary activities, the results will be promising. If we also complement those activities with excellent food, drinks, and atmosphere, then a large part of the plan is set," he concluded.