Rodolfo Lopez Negrete
Mexico Tourism Board CEO Rodolfo Lopez Negrete will be
retiring, although a date has not been set for when his retirement will become
The executive's tenure has seen an unprecedented five years of
sustained growth in arrivals and spending during a period when Mexico faced a
series of challenges.
Arrivals grew from 22.3 million in 2010 to 32.1 million in 2015,
about a 44% increase, and despite devaluations in the peso, the economic
impact of Mexico's tourism industry grew by $6 billion during his term,
exceeding $17 billion in 2015.
The first quarter of 2016 suggests a continuation of the
five-year trend, with an 11% increase in volume and 7.5% increase in spending,
year over year.
He launched the enduring "Live It to Believe It" campaign
and developed partnerships with international brands including Formula 1,
Cirque du Soleil, the National Football League and the James Bond movie
franchise (the opening scenes of "Spectre" were shot in Mexico City).
Lopez Negrete was appointed COO of the tourism board in 2010 as
the nation was recovering from the H1N1 crisis.
Following his appointment, Lopez Negrete was thrown head
first into the public relations crisis surrounding the much-publicized drug
cartel-related violence that gripped parts of the country. He was often quoted in
Travel Weekly in response to various travel warnings that were issued by the
U.S. during that time and in defense of the safety and security of continued
travel to Mexico.
But concurrent with the crisis management, Lopez
Negrete deployed new strategies for a globalized world that increased the country's
international visibility, cultivating strong relationships with the World
Travel and Tourism Council and commercial partners in legacy and new markets.
His focus on relationships with international airlines significantly increased
Mexico's connectivity to the world. By 2011, the country experienced strong
increases in visitors from Russia, China, Australia, the U.K., Brazil, France,
Japan and Canada, something Lopez Negrete attributed to a “bold diversification
strategy … promoting a broad tourism offering and targeting an expanded breed
of global consumer.”
At the end of 2012, following the election of Mexican
president Enrique Pena Nieto, a new secretary of tourism was named, Claudia
Ruiz Massieu Salinas. She oversaw a reorganization of the ministry of tourism,
which included promoting Lopez Negrete to the position of CEO of the Mexico Tourism
Once he was in his new role, Lopez Negrete continued to rack
up double-digit growth numbers while circumstances tested the nation's
resilience. Two resort destinations on the Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta and
Riviera Nayarit, both saw a boost in arrivals following his initiative to
rebrand them together as “Vallarta-Nayarit."
When powerful Hurricane Odile made landfall on the popular
resort area Los Cabos in Baja California, Lopez Negrete mobilized the industry and
waged an aggressive campaign to maintain air lift through the crisis and offer
Most recently, Lopez Negrete had been working to counter concerns
about the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
Lopez Negrete's diplomatic bearing and business background — he
has a master's degree in marketing and management from the University of
Arizona, and had been a regional vice president for Hyatt — came to the fore in
discussions with resort developers, wholesalers, travel agencies and airlines,
as well as both domestic and international politicians.
He convinced Texas state officials to soften a spring
break warning to college students that initially told students to avoid the
Within the complex world of Mexico politics, he did the
impossible: he worked for three secretaries of tourism — Gloria Guevara, Ruiz and
Enrique de la Madrid — under the administration of two different political
parties (Guevara was appointed by PAN president Felipe Calderon, while Ruiz and
de la Madrid were chosen by current PRI president Enrique Pena Nieto).
His previous experience included 10 years as president of
Latin America for BMG Entertainment and president of a partnership between EMI
Music and Televisa, and he used his entertainment connections to conduct
campaigns that highlighted celebrities visiting Mexico during some of its
biggest public relations challenges.