Mexico Tourism Board expected to close all international offices

Mexico Tourism Board expected to close all international offices
Photo Credit: Claudio Divizia/Shutterstock

The Mexican Tourism Board, which last month shuttered 17 of its 21 international offices, plans to close the remaining four by June, according to multiple sources.

The sources, all of whom spoke on condition that they remain anonymous, said the New York, Tokyo and Berlin offices will be shuttered by the end of the quarter, and Miami will close in May or June.

Previously, Alfonso Sumano Lazcano, head of the tourism board's New York office, had indicated to Travel Weekly that the new president's administration planned to close all but four offices and had transferred the promotional agency's $300 million budget to construction of a rail line linking tourist destinations and villages across the Yucatan Peninsula.

At the time, Sumano said the tourist offices might be folded into Mexican embassies in the three countries. Sumano and others from the tourism board did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday, and it remained unclear if the country would be dedicating any resources to inbound tourism promotion.

Pablo Azcarraga, who chairs both the Mexican hotel chain Grupo Posadas and the National Tourism Business Council, said last month that the private sector was negotiating to create a new joint entity to manage advertising and promotion of Mexico. It it was unclear Thursday where that effort stood.

The continued uncertainty comes as the online news operation Mexico News Daily reported that Apple Leisure Group CEO Alex Zozaya told local media that he estimates tourism is down 20% in Mexico this year compared with last. He said that high-end tourism has taken the biggest hit and that he expects visitor numbers to decline further in coming months as hotel supply increases. Zozaya said Americans are opting for the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Costa Rica over Mexico.

At the same time, international air arrivals to Cancun Airport declined in January, the first year-over-year decrease for any month in almost seven years, according to Mexico News Daily.

Pleasant Holidays CEO Jack Richards said Pleasant's Mexico business is flat, although he said the company's high-end trips are doing much better than its mid-range offerings. Still, he said, they may be the exception as he is hearing from partners and others that business is down anywhere from 20% to 40% in Mexico.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean and Europe are up by double digits, Richards said. And he is very worried about the long-term impact of Mexico shuttering its promotional arm.

"We are concerned anytime there is a major change in the way they promote a major destination like this," he said. "I think it will have a significant impact on tourism."

Richards said he has not been involved in any discussions with the new federal government in Mexico about tourism promotion but said he and his partners are working closely with Mexico's state and regional tourism entities.


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