ACAPULCO, Mexico -- Last year was a good one for Mexico's tourism
industry, according to officials at Tianguis Turistico, the annual
national tourism convention held here last month.
But challenges still exist as the government confronts the
realities of a neighbor at war and competition from other
In 2003, Mexico's tourism sector revenues reached more than $9.4
billion, a 6.8% increase over 2002.
According to Rodolfo Elizondo Torres, the nation's secretary of
tourism, that puts Mexico in 10th place worldwide in tourism sector
revenues, up from 13th in 2002.
Elizondo said that "tourist arrivals and revenue in the country
... show growth that allows us to be optimistic" but noted that
"our optimism must be in moderation. ... We are aware that last
year, we were in a period before the Iraq war."
To continue the increase in arrivals, Elizondo said, the country
must develop new strategies and build upon its existing
Among the developments he said he would like to see is an effort
to make travel easier within Mexico, with more regional air
service, as part of a plan to encourage foreigners to visit more
than one region during their vacations.
Elizondo also said that courting the Mexican-American market and
developing more tourist attractions close to the U.S. border should
"We have made the effort ... to do a study of the border regions
of our country, which has yielded some important data," Elizondo
"The most important is ... [that] none of the border
destinations considers itself as a tourist destinations, or rather,
there isn't the concept, not even in Tijuana, that they are or
could be important tourist destinations."
One strategy for developing tourism close to the border is a
plan by Fonatur, Mexico's tourist development agency, to promote
new tourist routes in the north and construct new port and marina
facilities in several locations along the Sea of Cortes.
"We have the competitive advantage of being a country that is
unique, diverse and hospitable," Elizondo said, adding that another
advantage is safety, which he said is a major consideration today
for travelers from the U.S., Canada and Europe.
"Mexico has no history in terms of terrorism, and I hope we
never will. From my point of view, that will make more
international tourists return to Mexico," he said.
"We consider the [tourism arrival] numbers that we're seeing a
direct reflection of this variable in the travel decisions of
This year, Tianguis attracted 2,100 participants, including 902
buyers from 31 countries, according to officials.
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