MEXICO CITY -- Sectur, Mexico's Ministry of Tourism, released details of the Mexico Visitor Entry Fee to be implemented July 1.

The fee will be 150 Mexican pesos, approximately U.S. $15 and Canadian $20 under current conversion rates.

Anyone traveling to Mexico by air, land or sea will be required to pay the fee, with two exceptions: ground travelers who do not venture beyond Mexico's interior checkpoints (approximately 16 miles across the borders) and cruise passengers visiting for less than three days.

Additionally, anyone bound for another country who has a connecting flight in a Mexico airport will not have to pay the fee.

Air travelers will pay the fee when they purchase tickets.

The fee for cruise passengers will be built into the cost of the cruise package or collected when disembarking at Mexican ports.

Land travelers will pay the fee at Mexican checkpoints or they can choose to pay at banks in Mexico.

The Mexico Visitor Entry Fee was passed by the Mexico Congress last year for the fiscal 1999 budget. Revenues generated by the fee will be used by both Sectur, for international tourism promotion, and by the National Immigration Institute to modernize the system by which visitors are processed and to facilitate the entry of visitors with improved facilities and services to enhance national security.

Sectur said it hopes revenue generated by the fee will help restore its promotional budgets, which have taken heavy hits since the devaluation of the peso in 1995.

The fee is expected to generate roughly $120 million annually, enabling Sectur to triple its current international promotional push.

According to Sectur, the fee is modest in light of the value inherent in a Mexico visit due to the weak peso against U.S. and Canadian dollars.

Sectur also pointed to the fact that similar visitor fees are charged by other countries in the form of entry fees or tourist visa fees, and Mexico does not require a visa for U.S. or Canadian visitors.

Sectur does not expect the fee have a negative impact on visitor arrivals or the country's position in the international tourism arena. In 1998, Mexico received roughly 19.3 million visitors, and an increase of 4% is projected for 1999. (Roughly 88% of Mexico's visitors are from the U.S.)

According to preliminary figures released by the World Tourism Organization, Mexico also jumped from the eighth to the seventh most visited destination in the world last year.

The Mexico Visitor Entry Fee marks the second one Mexico has imposed on travelers to enter the country. A similar fee was imposed in the 1960s but subsequently was repealed to stimulate tourism in the 1970s. The tourism sector has since become Mexico's second- largest industry.

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