2016 was a record breaking year for Mexican Tourism. In February the Mexico Tourism Board announced that 35 million international travelers had visited Mexico in 2016. This represented a 9% growth on the previous year - more than twice the global industry average - and the Mexico Tourism Board was set to make 2017 even bigger. However the recent election of President Trump and his anti-immigrant rhetoric plunged Mexico into uncertainty.
With the coming of Trump and his attacks on travel and immigration, the travel industry collectively held it’s breath. At this year’s New York Times Travel Show, company executives finally voiced their opinions on the Trump vs Travel issue. Alejandro Zozaya is CEO of Apple Leisure Group. Much like many other American travel and leisure companies, 50% of Apple Leisure Group’s properties are in Mexico. During a panel discussion, Zozaya commented that "‘if he [President Trump] makes it look like Mexico is the enemy, people will stop traveling to the enemy," adding that, ‘’That would hurt us badly.’ With panel discussions such as these, it’s no wonder industry workers started to worry."
However, in a somewhat shocking turn of events, travel agents have recently reported on the Mexican tourism state of affairs - and the future looks bright. Travel Market Report conducted a survey of 447 travel agents during the month of March. The resounding result was that travel sales to Mexico were stable, if not rising. 57% found that their sales were stable with a large percentage of agents seeing sales rise by up to 20% when compared to the same period last year.
A main reason for rock solid sales at a time when Mexico is receiving so much negative media is that Mexico tourism is known for generating return custom. Many tourists choose to visit Mexico again and again. This is even more true for popular destinations such as the Riviera Maya. Out of the travel agents surveyed, a whopping 86% named Riviera Maya as the most popular destination followed by Cancun with 68%. The Riviera Maya’s exceptional growth in popularity is showcased by Tripadvisor. The colossal travel website recently named 4 Riviera Maya locations in it’s list of Top 10 Mexico destinations, with Playa del Carmen taking the #1 spot. Playa del Carmen also ranked in the top 25 destinations in the world!
Another reason many travelers are choosing Mexico is the favorable exchange rate. In a weird twist of fate, the plunge that the peso experienced after President Trump’s election has encouraged tourism spending in Mexico as American’s get more bang for their buck. Moreover, as more and more U.S. political drama unfolds, many Europeans are choosing Mexico for their vacations.
It seems that, all in all, Mexico’s wealth of natural beauty, dedication to luxury accommodation and unparalleled level of service has thus far created an unshakable tourism industry. Only time will tell. Would your choice of travel destination be influenced by Trump’s policies? How do you think his anti-Mexican rhetoric may affect Mexican-U.S. tourism in the long run?