As a tourist destination, Mexico really does have it all – beaches, ruins, exciting cities and internationally-beloved cuisine. With the long-standing safety concerns that have plagued the country’s image for decades now diminishing, its popularity with tourism is being reflected in the statistics. Indeed, Mexico had a landmark year in 2014 in terms of tourism and its status as a desirable destination on the global scene is only growing.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WWTC), 2013 was a great year for Mexican tourism, with that industry bringing in more than any other single sector’s contribution to the GDP. Indeed, it brought in around 13.3% of the total income for the calendar year – an impressive contribution by any standards. However, 2014 has proven to be even more astounding, earning Mexico a whopping $US 8.4 billion in foreign currency.
In the first half of 2014, international visitors to the country reached an unprecedented 19.3 million people, which is an increase of almost 20% from the previous year. Border entries into Mexico increased by nearly one third (32.6%) while air arrivals were up 10.8%. The majority of these air-bound tourists were Americans (56.5%), while British visitors to Mexico also crept up 3% from 82,000 from January-March last year to 84,400 in the same period of this year.
The industry is providing employment to its citizens, as well. More than 3 million people were employed directly as a result of tourism in 2014, including travel agents, hotel staff, airline employees and other transportation services geared specifically towards tourism. Its total contribution to national employment – which includes those employed as a result of investment in the country and the supply chain – was more than 7 million people. Aside from the spheres of agriculture and education, no other industry provided more employment to the Mexican people.
These figures, provided by journeymexico.com, clearly show that the Mexican tourism is thriving in 2014. And it’s only expected to increase in the future. The WWTC has projected a growth of 4.6% per annum towards GDP by 2024, when it is expected to produce 14.8% of the country’s total revenue.
Meanwhile, employment opportunities are also expected to rise. Direct employees are expected to exceed 4 million by 2024, while the total number of jobs generated by tourism is projected to increase 2.3% over the ten year period, culminating in more than 9 million opportunities.
Why is Mexico been so popular in 2014?
Mexico is enjoying such a purple patch in tourism for several reasons. First and foremost, its qualities are undeniable and varied; the country really has something to offer every kind of traveller or tourist[A1] . From pristine, sun-kissed beaches to archaeological ruins of ancient civilisations… from adrenalin-pumping extreme sports to world-class hotels, restaurants and museums… visitors to Mexico’s shores are spoiled for choice. Of course, satisfied customers are vocal customers, and word has been getting round about the attractiveness of Mexico as a holiday destination.
However, just as important as the reality of the nation is its image. Long avoided as a dangerous hotbed of crime and corruption, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto seems to be winning his war against the cartels. NBC News reports that the murder count has fallen in successive years from 22,852 in 2011 to 18,388 in 2013. More importantly, the media are affording less coverage to the violence of the gangs, thus improving Mexico’s image on a national and a global scale.
It is this improved image which has proved the biggest catalyst to the skyrocketing tourism industry, according to Marc Murphy, tourism co-ordinator and hotel liaison for the popular and prestigious Pacific coast of Riviera Nayarit.
“The perception of security in Mexico has an enormous effect on tourism. When there were stories of drug violence and cartels every day it stopped some people [from] coming to the resorts, even though they were never much affected by that violence,” stated Murphy, pointing out just how big an impact the media – and Peña Nieto himself – have had on the tourism sector.
“When the president talks less about drugs and violence, the national newspapers write less about it and so the international media report less on it. Perception becomes reality.”
Whatever the public perception, the reality is that Mexico is finally realising its enormous potential as the next tourist Mecca. Significant investment and an improved PR can only go so far – at the end of the day, the nation has to deliver to satisfy the ever-increasing hordes of tourists that flock to its shore. And Mexico does just that, surely ensuring its place at the forefront of foreign travel for years to come.