Tourism is BIG business in Mexico! Approximately 44.8 million international tourists are predicted to visit Mexico in 2019, which is a 5.6% increase over the number projected for 2018. In comparison, in 2018 the Mexican tourism industry is on track to grow at a rate of 7.9% over 2017 whereas the economy as a whole recorded 2.3% growth. While the expected growth for 2019 is less, Mexico is currently the sixth most visited country in the world.
While the increase in tourism numbers is good news, the new President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) announced more good news in that he will be increasing the budget of the Tourism Promotion Council (CPTM) in 2019. The 2018 annual budget for the council was approximately 6 billion pesos (USD 295 million). That works out to just USD 6.95 for each tourist attracted to Mexico in 2018. And, with the increase in the budget, we have a new Tourism Secretary in Miguel Torruco Marqués, after it was discovered that the council previously was not acting transparently. Perhaps an increase in advertising will move the estimated numbers up to exceed the previous year.
In 2017, a record 39.3 million foreign visitors came to Mexico, spending just over the USD 21.3 billion while they were here. By the trend from January to September 2018, it is estimated that Mexico will have 42,423,000 tourists by the end of 2018 and a total expenditure of USD 22.3 billion. That would show a growth rate in tourists of 7.9% and a 4.2% increase in revenue over 2017.
Tourism Secretary Miguel Torruco, states that the 44.8 million tourists predicted for 2019, were forecast to spend USD 23.26 billion while in the country, or 4.3% more than the expected expenditure this year.
Actual Numbers Higher
That number equates to an average of US $519.17 per person that will be spent on tourism. That number is down from last year’s $541.98 due to personal spending habits. While that number seems low, it can only be a guesstimate as much of the money that tourist spend is not accounted for, such as meals served in restaurants outside of the hotel, souvenirs, and other personal items.
The numbers of tourists only include those individuals who are issued an Entry Registration – Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) commonly referred to as a Tourist Visa. The stamped FMM is valid for land travel throughout Mexico. The cost is approximately 533 Pesos (approximately USD 26.42) per person but is free if the trip is seven days or less and you cross by land. If traveling by air or ship, the cost is included in the flight cost and the travel company pays the collected funds to the government. The FMM may be issued for up to 180 days.
The issue of 44.8 million FMM’s will produce an additional 23.9 billion pesos (USD 1.2 billion) for the government.
Not included in the number of tourists are those who cross over the border in cars or by foot and do not proceed past the border checkpoint a few miles further past the border. It is believed that up to 150,000 individuals cross over the border every day to visit towns and cities along the border. They may be employees of the many foreign-owned factories (maquiladoras) along the border, visiting to take advantage of lower prices on cigarettes and alcohol, to avoid having to pay for a prescription to purchase less expensive pharmaceuticals from the drugstores, or to take advantage of less expensive medical procedures in Mexico.
Those who spend a lesser amount than most tourists might include of students who come to Mexico each year for Spring Break, and those students who come to attend one of the numerous Spanish Language Schools, as the cost of tuition and boarding are not reported as tourist income. Individuals who travel to Mexico for a business meeting and spend less time in the country and those whose local expenses are paid for by the business are also not included. Also, those arriving by ship while on a cruise are issued FMM’s to depart the ship, for a day trip and will probably spend less than $100.
For many tourists who spend a week or more vacationing in Mexico, the cost is higher than USD 519,17, where a hotel room alone may run between USD 49.57 to USD 347 per night in Mexico City and more in other tourist areas.
Tourism contributes 8.7% of Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP), which is higher than the contributions from sectors including mining, petroleum, and financial services.
Hotels to Increase
Torruco added that by the end of the year, 23,200 hotels are expected to be in operation across the country, offering 834,000 rooms. The figures represent a respective 5.5% and 4.9% increase compared to the end of 2017. Growth in the number of hotels and rooms is forecast to continue at a slightly higher rate in 2019.
Torruco stressed that domestic tourism would continue to be the cornerstone of the industry, pointing out that Mexicans account for almost 80% of hotel stays.
Tourism Growth in Mexico City
Mexico City is one destination aiming to increase its share of both the domestic and international tourism pie.
The capital’s new tourism secretary, Carlos Mackinlay, said the government is targeting at least 10% growth in visitor numbers for 2019.
Last year, 13.5 million visitors stayed in hotels in Mexico City, meaning that for the government to achieve its goal, it would need to attract around 15 million tourists.
Mackinlay said the city’s advertising and promotion campaigns would be refocused and would have a better understanding of the markets at which they are directed. He added that a new Mexico City tourism website would be launched in the coming days.
The new Mexico City government, led by Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, is planning a range of new cultural festivals and celebrations and will continue with those that are already popular, such as the “Day of the Dead” parade, which was first celebrated in 2016.