Acapulco, Guerrero — Tourism executives at the national tourism fair faced down the president and minced no words about his dismantling of the Mexico Tourism Board.
A speech at the opening ceremony of the 44th annual Tianguis Turistico nudged President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was in attendance, that “tourism is a key piece in the economy.”
Luis Barrios Sanchez, head of the National Association of Hotel Chains, said that tourism contributes 8.8 percent of the country’s GDP.
“We cannot ignore that the United States is and will continue to be the main tourist client of the country, representing 60 percent of air tourism and practically all land and border travels,” he said.
Air capacity fell by 1.7 million seats in 2018. Meanwhile, Sanchez said, while the Bahamas, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic added capacity.
“We need your support to have capital to carry out Mexico’s tourism promotion,” Sanchez told the president, to applause from the audience, according to a report from the trade site Travel Weekly.
Sanchez praised the plan for a Mayan Train route on the Yucatan Peninsula, agreeing that it will bring new visitors to the southeast of the country and open up previously hard-to-reach sites.
“However, the financing of this work cannot leave behind the effort of attraction of tourism,” he cautioned.
Sanchez asked the government to contribute about 0.5 percent of the revenue tourism brings to Mexico to promote the industry.
Lopez Obrador was the last speaker to take the stage, and while he did not directly respond to Sanchez, his prepared statement addressed tourism.
“To reiterate what has been said, tourism is fundamental because it produces wealth, but also tourism distributes wealth,” he said. “That is why the commitment to support tourism is sincere.”
While not addressing the Mexico Tourism Board, he said the urban development of tourist cities and reducing crime both help attract foreign visitors.
“Here in Acapulco, for example, [the city] has already started an urban development program in El Renacimiento neighborhood,” he said. “We have committed resources for urban development, introducing water drainage, improving the streets, putting in public lighting, expanding and creating centers for recreation and also public safety.”
The government also plans to invest in Los Cabos, the Bay of Banderas region, Playa del Carmen and Puerto Vallarta, he said.
The tourism fair will be held in Merida, Yucatan, next year — an opportunity to show the world how far the Gulf side of the Peninsula has fared under the Lopez Obrador government.
Source: Travel Weekly