Thursday, April 26, 2012

Will Mexico make a Classy Comeback?

Roughly translated as "no problem, leave it for tomorrow", vacationers and retirees love Mexico's mañana attitude. But to keep tourism dollars rolling in, President Felipe Calderon is not letting that relaxed attitude take hold - at least not at the planning and policy levels.

The country's position has fallen from the world's 7th to 10th place in global tourist arrivals in the last 15 years. Complications with the US-European recession and the drug cartels have contributed to this drop. President Calderon is adamant he can reverse this trend. Very soon.

Admittedly, Mexico is in a unique position in tourism geography. It is "stone-throwing" distance from the US and Canada, and is fairly accessible to Europe and Asia. It has an incredible diversity of landscapes and culture, and the allure of some of the world's most famous beaches.

To put the country's prestige back in the global tourism spotlight, President Calderon announced 2011 was the Year of Tourism in Mexico, and unveiled The National Accord for Tourism, which the UNWTO praised as "the first country to support a global agenda for tourism".

The National Accord is very ambitious. As USA Today reported, its stated goal is that by 2018, Mexico will rank #5 in the world in tourism arrivals. As announced by a press release of the presidency, the country will do this through 10 strategic axes, including:

  • construct and improve tourism infrastructure
  • boost tourism promotion in Mexico and overseas
  • encourage public and private investment in the sector
  • diversify tourism services
  • promote regulatory changes to benefit the sector
  • promote sustainable development of the sector
Whether or not these principles are applied cohesively and successfully remains to be seen. Will investment in Mexico grow, and will consumer demand follow?  Will a path of sustainable development be followed?  

Mexico may yet make a "classy comeback" - re-invigorating its industry, in concert with a much needed dose of green flair.