For more than 30 years award-winning writer and editor Janice Strong’s work has appeared in regional and national travel publications with both trade and consumer audiences.
Recently PAXnewsWest.com sat down with Rodrigo Diaz de Rivera, director, Western Canada for the Mexico Tourist Board to talk about Canadians travelling to Mexico.
PAXnewsWest: What’s new?
Rodgrigo Diaz de Rivera: For Canada it’s been a couple of fantastic years. We closed  with 1,952,000 Canadian travellers which is fantastic, growing over 10 per cent, which is something we were not expecting. 2018 is looking very good as well. In January, we registered a growth of over nine per cent, which is really good. January is usually one of the busiest months and having that amount of growth gives us a very good idea of what is going to happen throughout the year.
Last year we were named the eighth most visited country in the world by the UNWTO. Mexico received between 39 million and 40 million tourists last year, and almost two million of those were Canadians. And out of those almost two million, 800,000 came from Western Canada. More than 40 per cent of the tourists that go from Canada to Mexico are from BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
There’s a town called San Miguel de Allende, that was just recently named the World’s Best City by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine.
PNW: Let’s talk about safety for a minute
RDR: Mexico is as safe as you want it to be. Out of those 39 million visitors we had in 2017, less than 100 [were involved in] a violence- or criminal-related scene. That’s a very tiny amount of people.
Tourism is one of the most important industries for the country and the country lives for tourism, so Mexico is a very, very, very secure country for tourism and the government is working very hard ensuring even more travel security.
As long as you stick to tourist areas and you don’t go to places you don’t know and are not recommended, you are going to be completely safe. As safe as you would be at home.
PNW: Does Mexico have new marketing initiatives for this year?
RDR: Last year we replaced the “Live it to Believe It” slogan with “Mexico World of Its Own”
Mexico is not only a beach destination. It’s a place where you can go to amazing museums, to amazing shopping malls, to pyramids that are 1,000 years old; but you can also go to the highest building in Latin America, have an amazing view, or you can get into a castle that’s 1,000 years old, in the middle of Mexico City, which is one of the most populated cities in the world.
What we are trying to do with “Mexico World of Its Own” is to let people know that Mexico has absolutely everything to offer. If you are looking for a hike, or an adventure trip, you can get it; but if you were looking just to relax in a spa and lay by the beach for a couple of weeks you can also do it. We are asking people “how far will you go into Mexico, because Mexico is a World Of Its Own.
In my case, I’m going to be focusing more on cultural destinations. Beach destinations and sun destinations in Mexico are already pretty well-positioned in the Canadian market. But they still don’t know, they haven’t visited, or they don’t know much about Puebla, or San Migel de Allende. And that’s something I want to push a little bit further.
Last year, for the first time, we built a Mexican gastronomic and cultural marketplace in Robson Square [in Vancouver]. We had 18,000 people visiting us. It was very, very successful. We are going to be having that again this year on Sept. 15, which is Mexico’s Independence Day.
We are focusing a lot on gastronomy, on culture, because it’s something that Canadians are always eager to explore, a little bit of our history, a little bit of trying the flavours and the colours that Mexico has to offer.
PNW: Can you offer three selling tips for travel agents?
RDR: I think if you want your customers to go to a place where they can eat fantastic food, if they’re looking to go and experience something that’s actually going to mark their lives forever and that’s going to allow them to bring back memories that can’t be created somewhere else, if they want to go to a place to be in touch with history, to a place where service is the best in the world, I think they should go to Mexico.
We are aiming to be the dream destination for every traveller in the world.