Mexico's tourism promotion body probably needed some changes, but this is likely going too far. Will Mexico's travel industry find a way to fill the gap?
Fresh off a presidential election — and a prolonged effort to encourage visitation to Mexico despite concerns about crime — the country’s new government is dismantling its international tourism marketing machine.
Rather than promote the destination out of offices spread around the world, Mexico plans to use its consulates and embassies.
“We already have that infrastructure and our government is convinced we can do it in a more efficient way if we use exactly that network that we have,” said Carlos Gerardo Izzo Rivera, a spokesman for the Mexican Consulate in New York. “That doesn’t mean in any way that we are going to promote less our country. We’ll keep our effort to show the world that Mexico is a wonderful place to visit for tourism, for business or for any purpose.”
Izzo said the restructuring is ongoing; he could not confirm numbers, but Travel Weekly reported Monday that 18 of the country’s 21 international tourism offices would close.
The move is unusual for a country that relies heavily on tourism — more than 39 million international visitors came to Mexico in 2017 — but the news is not a surprise. In December, Secretary of Tourism Miguel Torruco Marqués said the Mexico Tourism Board would be eliminated and resources redirected to a proposed “Mayan train,” according to El Universal and other local media.
That announcement has drawn some criticism from the travel industry in Mexico. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also got rid of ProMexico, which promoted investment in the country, and axed plans for a new airport.
Izzo, the consulate spokesman, said the restructuring would make the country’s global tourism promotion more efficient.
“That will bring some savings that can be used in other efforts in development of tourism infrastructure in Mexico,” he said.
While plans are still not firm, Izzo said the private sector will be encouraged to get more involved with tourism promotion as well.
Last year, destinations within Mexico increased their investment in safety measures amid regular headlines about violence. The Mexico Tourism Board also worked to ease traveler concerns. Izzo said the country is still dedicated to adding those issues, even with the change in tourism marketing.
“We are a country of course with challenges, we are dealing swiftly with those challenges,” he said. “We have the mandate from our president and from our minister of foreign affairs to promote our country, and we do it because we are convinced that we have a wonderful country that is safe to visit and is safe to invest in.”
Photo credit: Visitors are shown in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Mexico Tourism Board is closing most of its international offices and moving money from international marketing to an infrastructure project that is expected to cater to tourists. Karen / Flickr