How Destinations in Mexico Have Been Dealing With the Tourism Board’s End

Mexico Map
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Several months after the wind-down of the national Mexico Tourism Board (MTB), regional tourism boards are working together to promote the destination, while a new Tourism Diplomacy Council works to promote the country via its embassies and consulates. Travel Agent spoke with several regional tourism officials for the latest on their promotion efforts, as well as the Yucatan Tourist Train

As announced last month by Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard and Tourism Secretary Miguel Torruco, a new Tourism Diplomacy Council in Mexico’s Foreign Ministry will make recommendations on the planning, design and implementation of strategies to promote the country internationally. The council will be comprised of Mexico’s diplomatic staff abroad, 28 business executives and other national tourism experts. Going forward, the Tourism Ministry is responsible for the content of Mexico’s tourism policy, while the Foreign Ministry’s embassies and consulates will help promote Mexico in international tourism markets. 

Darío Flota Ocampo, director of the Quintana Roo Tourism Board, tells Travel Agent that the tourism board is working with a representative of the consulate on promotion in the United States.

“The foreign affairs ministry decided one person would be in charge of the tourism part of foreign offices,” Flota Ocampo says. The Quintana Roo Tourism Board and other regional tourism boards have been responsible for hosting classes to help the consulate representative get up to speed on the tourism offerings in each destination. 

Regional tourism boards have also been focusing on partnerships with the private sector, or with each other. 

“We’ve established a private fund that will work the same way the Los Cabos Tourism Board works,” Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board, tells Travel Agent. Esponda says that the Los Cabos Tourism Board is 100 percent funded through the destination’s hotel tax; now, the destination has launched a private trust that will receive contributions from the private sector, which has already drawn interest organizations in other sectors, such as a local restaurant association. 

“We’re also going to be opening an office in Los Angeles in September that is also creating a lot of positive interest and feedback,” Esponda says. “California is our number one market – 40 percent of our visitors from the United States are from California.”

Michelle Fridman Hirsch, Secretary of Tourism Development for the State of Yucatán, says that the destination has created a promotion fund between the states of Yucatán, Campeche and Quintana Roo. “We’re looking to create some informational and promotional materials for international fairs,” she says. 

Arely Figueroa, public relations director of Visit Acapulco, says that the tourism board is working with airlines and commercial partners on a media plan to continue promoting Acapulco

“We are also in the middle of putting together a contest to have a marketing company promoting us in the United States and Canada,” Figueroa says.

Thus far, the Tourism Diplomacy Council says that the numbers for the first five months of 2019 have been strong: Mexico received 18.2 million international tourists, 5.9 percent more than during the same period last year. Spending was also up by 15.4 percent.

Looking ahead, Grupo Empresarial Strategy (GEMES), a Mexican consulting firm that has worked with clients including Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism, has called the new Tourism Diplomacy Council “a step in the right direction.” GEMES has also argued, however, that the country needs a comprehensive tourism promotion strategy with clearly defined objectives and responsibilities; a team that focuses on tourism promotion full-time; and a sufficient budget with resources from both the public and private sectors. 

Yucatan Tourist Train

As for the Yucatan Tourist Train, the project that has received the funding that formerly went to the Mexico Tourism Board, work is ongoing, but still in its early stages.

“This is one of the most important infrastructure projects of the new federal government,” Flota Ocampo said during a recent media briefing. 

“The federal government wants to develop the southeastern part of Mexico, where there is great inequality with other parts of Mexico, and also to spread the benefits of tourism and let tourists move more easily around,” added Lizzie Cole, executive director of promotion for the Tourism Promotion Council of Mexico. 

Environmental impact studies on the planned route, which spans approximately 930 miles, began in July, and the new president is committed to finishing the project “before this administration ends,” Cole says. (The administration lasts five years.)

Planned stops on the route include Cancun, Puerto Morelos and Tulum, as well as Merida and Campeche

“The Cancun station will be part of the airport, so you can go from your flight to the train terminal,” said Flota Ocampo. 

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