MAZATLAN -- Mexico has jumped to the sixth most visited
country in the world, Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto said at the Tianguis
Turistico conference here, telling government officials, tourism executives and
media that Mexico had climbed to No. 6 from the No. 8 spot in one year.
Since 2013, Mexico has gone from 15th to sixth in the
rankings, which are calculated by the United Nations World Tourism Organization,
representing growth of more than 62%. (A statement from the Mexico Tourism
Board said that while the official ranking will be published soon, it unveiled
its ranking "based on available information today from the largest
destinations in the world.")
Mexico last year welcomed 39.3 million international
visitors, a 12% increase over the previous year. The growth came despite a
challenging year for the country on a variety of fronts: From reports of resort
alcohol tainting to natural disasters like two devastating earthquakes to a
surprising safety scare in Playa del Carmen.
The Mexico Tourism Board attributed the visitor increase to
Mexico's investment in developing new and existing destinations, diversifying
its tourism products, and its partnerships with airlines, hotels, and the
Enrique de la Madrid Cordero, Mexico's secretary of tourism,
said that the numbers and year-over-year growth "prove that travelers hear
great things about visiting Mexico and keep coming back year after year.
Ensuring their safety and security is a top priority for the Mexican government
and the entire industry. While as a country Mexico has its challenges with
crime and violence, these are not things tourists will come into contact with
in our tourist destinations."
While there have been no U.S. State Department travel alerts
this year (the U.S. embassy issued the security alert after the Playa del
Carmen ferry explosion), Mexico is still working to ensure that travelers feel
they are in the best hands when traveling there. The state of Quintana Roo
recently shared an update on actions they have taken to further reduce the
chance of incidents in its tourism destinations, such as 24-hour surveillance
at the maritime terminals of Playa del Carmen and Cozumel as well as additional
metal detectors for passengers, luggage and cargo inspections. There have been
investments in technology to assist in communication between security personnel
and hotels and tour operators.
Currently, Mexico's largest international tourist
destinations have no travel restrictions. And within the select states that do
have travel restrictions, the following are deemed safe by the U.S. State
Department: Mazatlan, Los Mochis and Port Topolobampo in Sinaloa; Guadalajara,
Puerto Vallarta and Chapala Ajijic in Jalisco; Riviera Nayarit, including Punta
Mita, Nuevo Vallarta, Santa Maria del Oro and Xalisco in Nayarit; Manzanillo in
Colima; Morelia and Lazaro Cardenas in Michoacan; and Piedras Negras and Acuna
City in Coahuila.
Pena Nieto stressed that improvement would continue, and
Mexico's position in the world would continue to climb "if we establish
good policies, if we stay the course and don't make mistakes, if we leave
behind obsolete business models and stay firmly on the path within the
framework that we have drawn."
Mexico's goal is to reach 50 million visitors by 2021, said de la Madrid.