Mexico basks in tourism boom

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MEXICO CITY -- Mexico is experiencing a tourism boom.

During the first seven months of this year, Mexico welcomed a record 12 million visitors, a 4.3% rise from the previous year.

The tourists, business travelers and others visiting the country spent approximately $5 billion during this period at hotels, restaurants, stores, attractions, cultural institutions and countless other locations.

Arrivals by air rose 10% to 4.7 million, and cruise passenger arrivals rose 11% to 200,000.

Many visitors to Mexico come for its miles of beaches. Above, a beach in Cancun.
The figures, compiled by Banco de Mexico, Mexico's central bank, show that arrivals are on track to reach the 20 million visitor mark projected for the end of this year, according to the Mexico Tourism Board.

The tourism board's projections for this year represent a doubling of visitors compared with 1999, when 10.2 million tourists visited Mexico, the organization said.

The board is projecting that these visitors will spend $8 billion this year, up 12.2% compared to 1999.

Javier Vega, the tourism board's general director, pointed to the numbers as further proof that the organization's promotional efforts abroad are paying off.

"The Mexico Tourism Board is conducting comprehensive and integrated efforts to promote travel to Mexico in cooperation with travel industry partners," according to Vega.

"We expect these record-breaking numbers to continue," Vega said.

The main component of the board's tourism campaign is a national cable television advertising push that's running on CNN, the Discovery Channel and other networks with the tag line "Discover the Many Moods of Mexico."

The $10 million campaign also includes four-color print ads in major daily newspapers, travel trade journals and travel and specialty magazines that are running concurrently with the TV spots.

The campaign includes a Web site, at www.visitmexico.com; radio spots, and travel agent seminars and familiarization trips.

Officials are hoping to secure an additional $5 million to extend the campaign through March.

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