The city’s minister of tourism, Carlos Mackinlay, said that “tourism is a key economic generator of Mexico City,” representing 7% of its gross domestic product.
“Just this summer alone, the hotels expect to receive more than 2.3 million guests, representing an economic impact of $700 million,” he added.
A new initiative targeting the medical tourism market from the U.S. is a top priority, Mackinlay said.
“We know this is a large and important market for Mexico City,” he said. “Statistics show that more than 1.6 million Americans travel outside the U.S. for medical treatments. We’re not getting that market now, and we’re going after it with a medical initiative that will launch in September or October.”
Mexico City tourism officials are working with four private hospitals there to develop specific programs for the U.S. market.
Mexico City will fund a portion of the initiative, with the hospitals contributing the balance, Mackinlay said.
“We will begin slowly, with 50 to 100 patients a month, and we expect these numbers to rapidly grow for a number of reasons,” he said. “Mexico City is a short distance from major U.S. gateways, and we have excellent airlift here. Our hospitals are modern facilities with state-of-the-art equipment, with many surgeons who trained in the U.S., and costs are much lower than in the U.S.”
Packages with airlines, hotels and ground operators will be offered as part of the medical component.
Earlier this summer, Mexico City launched a promotional campaign in the U.S. focusing on the destination’s culture, luxury products and services; business and incentive facilities; and cuisine.
A roadshow component, which kicked off in late July, runs through August, with tourism officials from Mexico City, supported by representatives from Aeromexico and the Mexico Tourism Board, meeting with agents and operators in Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York.
“We’re touting history, gay and lesbian travel, cultural offerings, gastronomy, luxury hotels, spa and wellness programs and facilities for business and incentive travel,” Mackinlay said.
Environmental initiatives also are ramping up in Mexico’s capital. A new Green Plan has been implemented to convert the city into an environmentally sustainable destination, according to Mackinlay.
“Pollution levels are way down from 10 years ago,” he said. “We have banned construction in certain parts of the city and raised awareness by emphasizing the protection of natural areas and water sources.”
Innovative transportation systems such as the Ecobici bike-sharing program are reducing road congestion and auto emissions.
A new bus system from the airport to city center has been introduced, offering visitors the option of a $3 ride vs. a high-fare, pollution-producing taxi or private limousine transfer. Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.
Mexico City is on the move with new initiatives and programs designed to garner specific market segments, capitalize on the destination’s myriad offerings and showcase its total product line.