Mexico earned more than $7 billion from tourism during the first five months of 2014, according to the most recent figures released by the nation’s Tourism Secretariat. This amounts to a 16.7 percent increase compared to numbers gathered during the same period in 2013, according to central bank figures.
“Mexico is a country undergoing a transformation,” shared Mexican Tourism Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu.
Numbers Don’t Lie
Mexico reportedly welcomed 11.7 million foreign tourists in the Jan-May period, up 19.2 percent from the same period last year, with figures influenced in part by the number of visitors arriving by air rising from 5.4 million in 2013 to 6 million during the first five months of 2014. Average spending by visitors has also grown, up 8.5 percent.
Tourism currently accounts for around 9 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP) and ranks as the nation’s number three source of foreign exchange, behind only the oil industry and remittances. The tourism industry in Mexico also employs more than 2.5 million people directly and countless others indirectly, making it a crucial part of the nation’s continued success.
Who Loves Mexico the Most?
According to the Tourism Secretariat, the United States continues to be the top source of tourists for Mexico, with 3.9 million visitors arriving by air alone during the Jan-May period this year, up 13.1 percent from the first half of 2013. Canada comes in second, with 1.05 million visitors, up 5.9 percent from last year, and Britain is third with arrivals totaling 204,878, up 6.8 percent.
Also of note, the number of visitors heading to Mexico from emerging markets is growing substantially. Although exact numbers are not yet available, the secretariat reports a significant increase in the number of visitors from Venezuela, China, Columbia and Brazil. In fact, Ruiz Massieu reported this June that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Mexico has increased more than 360 percent over the last 7 years, and 2015 has already been declared the Year of Mexico-China Tourism.
Mexico plans to invest $13.8 billion over the next five years in tourism infrastructure to maximize the nation’s potential, after welcoming around 23.7 million visitors in 2013 – a number that was up by around18 percent from 2012.
“Officials earlier this year said they hoped to top 24 million visitors in 2014,” writes Travel Weekly.
Considering that Mexico is already the second most popular tourist destination in the Americas and the only Latin American country to rank in the top 25 most-visited nations in the world, it’s easy to see why its government is so heavily invested in becoming an even bigger global travel powerhouse.
“Our intention is to emulate the success of Quintana Roo,particularly Cancun,in tourism,” shared President Enrique Peña Nieto. “That’s why every branch of government is committed to making tourism a priority.”
Planned infrastructure projects include improvements to roads, ports and airports, as well as renovating beaches and revitalizing the nation’s colonial districts that are located in and around its main tourist destinations. Mexico’s successful Magic Towns program will also expand to include around 100 destinations, providing visitors with plenty of options for exploration. New convention centers, public parks and new offerings at Meso-American heritage sites are also in the works.
Ethical Concerns & Sustainability
Mexico is also dedicated to improving the overall quality of its various tourism offerings and has been working to promote responsible and ethical options with a sharp focus on sustainability for the future. The nation is brimming with cultural tourism opportunities that will play a role in preserving the past while looking toward securing the future.
“Sustainable tourism is another area under development, with the protection of heritage sites being entrusted to the communities themselves so residents will view them as an asset to protect,” shared Ruiz Massieu.
Have you ever been to Mexico? If so, we would love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below!