According to the Mexico Tourism Board, the country reached 30.6 million tourist arrivals from January to September, a 6.9% increase from 2017. Nevertheless, Mexico has recently faced its share of challenges, from reports of violence and tainted alcohol in Cancun to the disarmament of the police force in Acapulco for its ties to drug corruption. Many airlines have cut their seats to Cancun for 2019, citing a drop in demand for the destination.
But according to Kate Murphy, president of Wings Travel Group, the resulting media coverage unfairly portrays the country in a negative light. "Mexico is safe and friendly," she said. "The picture that is being painted is not accurate. There is not rampant violence or other safety issues impacting tourist areas, and visitors overwhelmingly feel that the destination exceeds expectations."
Murphy and four others founded the nonprofit YesToMexico this year to address what the organization's website calls "sensationalist reports about the country we, and many others, love to visit." YesToMexico aims to serve as a resource for accurate information about the country's popular tourist regions.
For example, Murphy said the media lately has depicted Cancun and Cabo San Lucas as too dangerous for tourists, when in fact these areas have the same exact travel warning level from the U.S. State Department as the U.K. and Italy. "The crime being reported is outside tourist zones," she said. "The context is missing."
YesToMexico's website offers statistics to help put Mexico safety into context, quoting sources such as the New York Times, the Miami Herald, the Centre for Aviation, Crime Index Rate and the Mexico Tourism Board. The site also posts articles from reputable news sources that shed a positive light on tourism to Mexico. Sources include the Washington Post, Conde Nast Traveler and various travel trade publications.
A YesToMexico representative said the group will also roll out a digital marketing campaign that includes travel adviser email blasts, advertising and consumer database marketing for those who sign up to receive additional information.
The other founding board members are Tom Brussow, president of Sunsational Beach Vacations; Sandra Lovick, CEO, Travel Leaders -- Market Square; Sarah Kline, president of Time for Travel; and Shawn Warmstein, vice president for RBB Communications.
"Travelers should have a positive outlook," Murphy said. "Mexico is beautiful and well known for its warm and welcoming culture. The country has seen double-digit U.S. visitor increases each of the last five years, and 86% of travelers want to return. That's no coincidence."