Mexico Tourism Official: Agents Big Part of Resurgence

NEW YORK CITY – From the ongoing gang violence in Mexico’s U.S. border towns to the bankruptcy of Mexicana, one of the country’s largest local carriers, it seems as though the destination has received just as much negative publicity as it has last year.

Yet the tourism arrivals from last year to this year are increasing at a staggering rate.

So what made the difference from last year when the country was hurt by news of the swine flu along with a suffering U.S. economy?

You did.

Travel Agent sat down with Alfonso Sumano, the new Mexico Tourism Board director of the regional office for the Americas, Monday and talked about the key role that agents have played in keeping Mexico tourism successful in 2010.

“Consumers are now aware that all of these problems are away from (where they will be visiting in Mexico),” Sumano says. “People are much more aware and we wanted to thank the travel agent community because of what they have shared with their clients."

Agents have convinced their clients that Mexico is still safe to travel to and because of that, the country has seen the number of international tourists arriving in Mexico by air increased by 27.5 percent in July, in comparison to the same month last year.

The number of international tourists reaching Mexico by air has risen 35.2 percent in June compared to the same month last year, marking an impressive first half of the year for its tourism industry.
In June, 818,278 tourists of different nationalities visited Mexico vs. 605,435 in the same month last year. Of those, 573,016 travelers arrived by air from the U.S., representing a 23.7 percent growth over June of last year. Even more impressive were the 41,184 arrivals from Canada—21,322 more than in June of 2009 and a whopping 107.4 percent increase.

“The big difference from last year to this year, is the consumers have answers to all of their questions before they book,” Sumano says. “Agents are addressing their concerns before the booking process.”

And the numbers should only continue to increase with Continental Airlines adding some new Los Angeles and Texas flights to the country, making up for some of the Mexicana flights that were lost from those two markets when the carrier filed for bankruptcy in August.

Also, the Mexico Tourism Board just launched a new campaign, “The Routes of Mexico,” to push the colonial towns of the country.

From here on out, Sumano preaches that his main goals in his new position will be to “improve connectivity, emphasize the diversity of the country and spread the word of the value of the Mexico destination.”