JUAN JOSÉ ÁLVAREZ

Mexico 2021 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

After taking all the necessary measures, Guanajuato became the first state in Mexico without a beach to receive a WTTC Safe Travel certificate, demonstrating its commitment to health.

Juan José Álvarez
BIOGRAPHY

Juan José Álvarez is a biochemical engineer in marine science with a master's in applied public management. He has experience and a close relationship with the private sector. He was founding president of CCE in San Miguel de Allende. Within the public sector, he has collaborated with the Secretariat of Economic Development in employment and occupational training and is now the Secretary of Tourism for the State of Guanajuato.

Can you tell us about the initiatives and programs the state launched to support the tourism ecosystem and facilitate its reopening?

The pandemic has lasted over one year now and has had a massive impact on businesses. Since day one, our governor was clear in saying that the priority in Guanajuato is to keep us in good health, and our tourism sector has followed all the measures implemented by the Ministry of Health. As a support measure, SECTUR developed a good practices manual that was delivered virtually, a free training course, and certification to minimize the spread of the virus. Over 3,000 individuals or enterprises related to tourism have implemented those measures within their working areas. This training was also the foundation for getting the WTTC Safe Travel certificate, and Guanajuato became the first state without a beach in Mexico to receive it. In June and July 2020, we set the message for every visitor and tourist coming to Guanajuato where health continues to be the state's priority, and the tourism sector is prepared to host them. We did this by saying we have held off as long as possible under the right conditions so we can provide a safe atmosphere for tourists to visit us in Guanajuato.

What are the objectives behind the advisory board for tourism?

In 2012, the congress of Guanajuato approved the tourism law, which includes the installation of an advisory board formed by the public and private sector. Our governor holds the presidency seat, and state ministries closely related to tourism also have a seat: environmental and sustainability, cultural, economic development, and innovation. On the private-sector side, there are successful people who have been developing different segments in tourism and have played a leading role in our state such as romance, ecotourism and adventure, gastronomy, and MICE to name some, all of which are segments that Guanajuato has become a leader in. They would share their knowledge and vision, and through that advisory board we will be able to dictate the routes to follow so that we can make the most of the assets in Guanajuato, such as our World Heritage cities as well as business tourism that we have developed through Highway 45 with the automobile industry. We also have the agro foods industry, which is one of the leading exporters in our state.

What do you envision as the future of tourism, and what role do you want Guanajuato to have in this?

People who are in the front row of tourism are heavily committed to service so we are well known for our hospitality. SECTUR must provide better conditions for visitors and providers to profit from our segments. I have been in office since May 1, so I have been in the pandemic during my entire term so far, and this has been my reality. We have to go segment by segment and integrate suppliers, train them, and do this benchmark so that the large and strong value chain of tourism in Guanajuato will allow us to take care of our assets, accommodate them to the interests of the new way tourists want to travel, and reinforce or create new experiences. Guanajuato is the only state in Mexico with a tourism observatory that has been strengthened and upgraded. We want to make sure the segments that are leading tourism impact the value chain in providing the services so that they are taken care of. We are focusing our overall strategy on a key component on reaching larger audiences, namely a strong social media and digital related tools. During the early stages of the pandemic, we launched live broadcasting and did webinars, and we have reached a broader range of audiences and more people. Local tourism is also the key to get the economy moving.