After disbanding the Mexico Tourism Programs of the previous governments, the federal government presented a six-year tourism strategy this week with five key goals, including construction of the Maya Train, increasing foreign visitors’ spending and strengthening the sector across Mexico.
Speaking at an event in Chetumal, Quintana Roo, President López Obrador said tourism contributed US $22 billion to the economy last year, making it Mexico’s third biggest foreign exchange earner behind the automotive sector and remittances by Mexicans working outside the country.
“That’s why it’s very important for us to maintain economic growth and continue creating jobs in the sector. We’re going to implement a plan to grow the whole country but we want to support tourism and at the same time support regions that are lagging behind in terms of growth, employment and well-being . . .” he said.
The tendering process for the Maya Train, a rail project that will connect cities in Mexico’s southeast, will begin soon, López Obrador said.
“I’m very happy that the Maya Train is being well accepted, that will help a lot. It’s a very important infrastructure project. We’re going to build it with the participation of the public sector, the private sector and the social sector. It’s an investment of around 120 billion pesos [US $6.3 billion],” he said.
The president pledged that the government will do all it can to enable investors to put their money into tourism-oriented projects “without bureaucracy, without corruption [and] without bribes.”
López Obrador also announced future investments will be made in destinations such as Acapulco, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.
He said that the secretariats of Security (SSPC), National Defense (Sedena), the Navy (Semar) and Tourism (Sectur) are working together to combat insecurity in tourism destinations, stressing that the safety of visitors is paramount in order for the sector to perform well.
In turn, federal Tourism Secretary Miguel Torruco said the goal of the new tourism strategy is to position Mexico – the world’s sixth most visited country – as a competitive and forward-thinking power in the sector.
Tourism can be a means of achieving “fair and balanced development among communities and regions,” he added.
In addition to strengthening the economy and development in Mexico’s southeast through the construction of the Maya Train, Torruco said the strategy aims to increase tourism earnings, develop less-visited destinations, stimulate domestic tourism and ensure that federal, state and municipal governments work together to develop the sector.
To capture more tourist dollars, the government will increase its focus on attracting tourists from wealthy countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Japan, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Korea.
Mexico’s embassies and consulates in such countries will be responsible for promoting tourism through a program to be known as Operación Toca Puertas (Operation Door-knocking), Torruco said.
The government will also strengthen its capacity to capture tourism-related statistics such as hotel occupancy rates and museum visitor numbers.
Furthermore, Torruco said that Sectur is currently working with the Secretariat of Finance (SHCP) to regulate online accommodation platforms such as Airbnb.
New taxes are expected to be imposed on online booking platforms with the resources collected to be used for tourism promotion.
A record 41.4 million international tourists came to Mexico last year, 5.5% more than in 2017, and they spent more while they were in the country.
The Tourism Secretariat expects international tourism to continue to grow this year, and while Cancún and the Riviera Maya, along with Mexico City, account for 62% of all international tourism in Mexico, stressing that greater diversification of the sector is needed.
Original: Mexico News Daily