A new bill introduced by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) seeks
to promote tourism between the United States and Mexico.
The United States-Mexico Tourism Improvement Act of 2019
says a decline in Mexican visitors to the United States is "a critical
economic trend given that Mexico is the biggest source if international
visitors to the United States after Canada."
The bill comes at a time when border security is a highly
politicized topic in the United States, with the Trump administration
threatening to shut the border down and declaring a national emergency to get
the funds to construct a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
Also, Mexico has slashed funding originally intended to
promote inbound tourism and is expected to close all international tourism offices in
favor of a building a Yucatan rail line connecting tourist destinations.
Mexican tourism to the U.S. peaked in 2016 at nearly 19
million visitors, or 24.9% of all visitors that year, according to the bill.
Their spending totaled $20.3 billion, up 3% from 2015. But the number of Mexican
visitors has declined since then, while overall international tourism to the
U.S. has increased.
According to the bill, 2017 saw a 6.1% decline in Mexican
visitors to the U.S. Monetarily, that equates to about $1.24 billion in
The bill charges the secretary of state with creating a
strategy to deepen bilateral tourism with Mexico, improve third-party tourism
to both countries with joint promotional efforts and expand the tourism
industries in both countries through the High Level Economic Dialogue platform.
The High Level Economic Dialogue platform was created
under the Obama administration and seeks to strengthen the U.S. and Mexico's
commercial and economic relationship.
The bill, introduced in the house in February, is
cosponsored by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Rep. Vincente Gonzalaez
In a statement in its daily newsletter, ASTA said it intends
to support the bill "given the critical role Mexico plays as a destination
for U.S. travelers."