Goodbye Mexico

By | Category: Travel rumblings

A week ago I had an e-mail from Vicente Salas who is the head man in the UK and Ireland in charge of promoting tourism to Mexico. He also is responsible for promoting the country in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries as well as South Africa, Portugal and Russia,

As you might gather from his responsibilities his is a pretty important role in attracting visitors to Mexico. Just from the UK over 563,000 Britons visited the country making the UK the third largest source of visitors to the country after the USA and Canada.

The success of marketing the country to UK tour operators and to Britons has meant that sends nearly 200,000 more tourists to Mexico than the next most valuable European country – Spain yet Spaniards speak the same language!

Yet Vincente’s e-mail is not trumpeting a new achievement. It is telling me that the Mexican government has decided to close all its overseas offices including the one in London.

Puerta Vallarta in Mexico

He tells me that it has been “a privilege to work and promote the wonders of Mexico in your incredible country” and that he will “continue with tourism promotion, not only of my beloved Mexico…”

Why has Mexico taken this stance especially since tourism is such a vital part of the country’s economy contributing over $21 billion in the last year of published figures? The answer is budgetary constraints.

It was part of the newly elected president of Mexico’s manifesto to shut all the overseas offices and, I presume, the job of tourist promotion will be given either to someone in the Mexican embassy in London and or a PR agency.

This short-sighted approach will probably result, over time, in fewer UK tourist travelling to Mexico as other destinations will lay on promotions and work with tour operators to introduce their holiday areas.

Cancun – an aerial shot – is the top long-haul destination for Britons

Tourist authorities might talk blithely about how they don’t compete but the truth is ever so different, Tourist numbers might be growing worldwide but there are always winners and losers. Just as Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey will attract British holidaymakers away from the Canaries and Spain this year due to availability and price,  Mexico will lose out to other long-haul destinations unless it can make itself heard.

Tomorrow is Vincente’s last day in his role. What’s the betting he will still be promoting Mexico, but in a private capacity, the day after? And what’s the betting that the Mexica president will realise his error in a year or two after he sees that his country won’t be growing tourist numbers as fast as others?

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