“We’re really happy!” says Cesar Mendoza, the Mexico Tourism Board’s regional director for Canada, when discussing 2017’s tourism statistics.
He has every right to be: in the past year, Mexico welcomed more than 39 million international visitors, jumping to the sixth most-visited country in the world according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) rankings.
“In general, tourism for Mexico in 2017 was fantastic!” says the director.
READ MORE: A closer look at the Occidental Grand Xcaret
Canadian arrivals get a boost
Canadian arrivals to Mexico in 2017 came in at just under 2 million, representing a substantial year-over-year increase of 12 per cent, more than doubling the usual annual increase of between four and six per cent, Mendoza says, offering some insight into the jump.
“There’s many factors,” he says. “The lift of the visa from Mexicans coming into Canada has prompted the airlines – both Canadian and Mexican – to add seats and increase visitation between the two countries.
“Also, the rhetoric of our common neighbour has led many Canadians and Mexicans to visit each other’s countries rather than go to the U.S. The devaluation of the Canadian dollar has also had an effect – you can get a lot more beer in Mexico than in the U.S.! Also, some of the weather we saw in the Caribbean last fall may have lead some Canadians to pick another holiday destination.”
The trend is expected to continue, Mendoza says, with the MTB anticipating another double-digit increase in Canadian arrivals, as airlines of both countries continue to add lift.
The new Hotel Xcaret
Resort favourites and hidden gems
Not surprisingly, the Caribbean resort areas of Cancun and Riviera Maya continue to draw the majority of Canadian arrivals. A recently-opened property of note includes Hotel Xcaret, a 900-room resort with unlimited access to Experience Xcaret’s eight nature parks and tours.
“People love to vacation in a place with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. The Mexican Caribbean has a unique feeling,” says Mendoza.
The Pacific destinations of Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit and Los Cabos are not far behind their eastern counterparts, especially enjoyed by travellers from Western Canada. Also growing in popularity is Mexico City, as airlines (including Aeromexico, Air Canada, Interjet and WestJet) continue to add seats between MEX and Canadian gateways.
“It’s traditionally welcomed a lot of business travellers but we’re undertaking a lot of promotion of Mexico City as a tourist destination,” Mendoza tells PAX. “It’s a big city, very safe and vibrant – there’s a growing gastronomy scene, a foodie’s paradise!”
For repeat visitors looking for a different sort of experience on their next Mexican escape, Mendoza points to two emerging destinations: Punta Mita, described as “a little Cabo” in Riviera Nayarit, frequented by celebrities and known for its boutique and high-end properties such as the Four Season and St. Regis; and Huatulco, “a hidden jewel” in the southern state of Oaxaca, where visitors can enjoy nature and wildlife experiences including the release of sea turtles into the Pacific Ocean.
Agents looking to expand their knowledge of Mexico as a travel destination can enrol in Visit Mexico University, offering selling tools and marketing materials to help them increase their Mexico bookings. Click here for more.
The shores of Los Cabos