MEXICO CITY -- The Mexico City Secretary of Tourism is stepping up
efforts to promote the capital as a leisure destination.
Initiatives are aiming to spotlight
the city as a multifaceted, cosmopolitan destination on a par with
world class urban centers such as Paris, London and New York.
Although Mexico City as a commercial center attracts a
significant number of business travelers, it often is overlooked as
a leisure destination. Officials want to get the word out that
Mexico City is packed with lures for the leisure traveler,
including museums, historic buildings and churches, archaeological
sites, quaint neighborhoods, performing arts and a variety of
Central Mexico's earthquake earlier this month did not cause any
major damage or disrupt services in the capital city, according to
the MCST. The MCST is capitalizing on more than $10 million
garnered through the formation last fall of a mixed funds tourism
promotion council, which receives money from a 2% lodging tax
implemented last year and from various tourism entities.
According to Augustin Arroyo, secretary of tourism for Mexico
City, a four-part marketing plan was developed to address key
obstacles in courting the leisure market.
"The main problems we face are lack of information and a [poor]
image," Arroyo said, pointing to negative publicity about crime in
the city. The effort entails local, regional, national and
international promotion carried through with a recently unveiled
logo to define Mexico City as a tourist product in public relations
and advertising campaigns.
The logo is a modern, streamlined design depicting Templo Mayor,
an archaeological site containing the main ceremonial pyramid of
the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, founded in the 1300s.
"The logo represents the Templo Mayor pyramid as the inception
of the modern city, giving rise to its contemporary architecture
while emphasizing the subtle Art Deco style prevalent in the city,"
To promote the new identity, the MCST's agenda in North America
this year includes a trade and consumer advertising campaign;
seminars to educate the trade; participation in major trade shows;
organizing fam trips; forming partnerships with airlines, and road
shows for the trade, the first of which will be in September and
October in California, Illinois and Texas.
To help the trade tap into Mexico City's potential as a leisure
destination, Arroyo said special-interest segments are being
featured prominently in order to give agents and tour operators the
opportunity to develop packages focusing on archaeology, shopping,
adventure, fiestas, history, gastronomy and religious tourism.
On the niche-marketing front, the MCST participated in the
International Adventure Travel and Outdoor Show in February outside
Chicago. With roughly 50% of the city's area being forested
territory, promoting adventure and ecotourism opportunities -such
as mountain biking and mountain climbing -- and developing new
products are a key focus, according to Arroyo.
This year, Mexico City had a presence for the first time at ITB,
the international trade show held annually in Berlin. Locally,
efforts are under way to ensure tourist safety in the wake of
recent high-profile crimes in the city.
Officials do not deny that there is a crime problem in Mexico
City, but many feel the issue has been sensationalized and that, as
long as tourists take precautions as they would in any large city,
they will diminish the likelihood of becoming a victim of
"The big problem is that the local news that is broadcast
nationally is picked up in the states," Arroyo said. He added that
recent initiatives to make the city safer for tourists have paid
Of the 7.9 million visitors Mexico City received in 1998, 1,590
complaints about criminal activity were filed, which represents
.02% of visitors, he said. Less than 1% of the complaints filed
were from international visitors.
The latest initiatives include the implementation of the
Ministerios Publicos Mobiles, which enables tourists to dial 061 on
a telephone to summon a representative who will register a
complaint about criminal activity.
Another new program, called pollitos (little chickens), acts as
a pedestrian help force and tourist information service. Pollitos
wear bright yellow outfits for easy identification.
Additionally, a safety precaution sheet is being distributed to
tourists when they check in to major hotels. Although it is not an
effort of the MCST, a Web site at www.safeMexico.com was introduced
by Sectur, Mexico's Ministry of Tourism, to provide objective
assessments of destinations and give visitors tips for having a
safe and pleasant stay in the country.
The MCST also launched a Web site, at www.mexicocity.gob.mx, which includes details on
safety precautions and a variety of other topics.
The comprehensive site features information on all of the city's
major attractions, tourist zones and special-interest opportunities
as well as important contact information.
The MCST also will soon unveil events planned for the
millennium, which marks the city's 675th birthday. For more
information on Mexico City, call (800) 44-MEXICO.