Is Mexico Dropping Out

Before we touch on some ugliness that happened recently here in Puerto, to add to the previous entry:

Read Mark Stevenson’s piece, “Mexico May Drop Out of Top Ten Tourists Destinations

MIAMI — Mexico’s top tourism official said the country may drop out of the world’s top 10 tourist destinations, a spot it has held for years.

Tourism Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu hasn’t said why the drop occurred, but there were declines in 2012 in two areas that have been affected by violence: border tourism and cruise ship stopovers.

The number of cruise ship passengers stopping in Mexico dropped 3 percent in 2012 and more than 15 percent over the past two years. The number of border visitors dropped 5.3 percent in 2012, according to Tourism Department figures.

Mexican border cities such as Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo have experienced continued waves of drug cartel violence, and a number of cruise operators have dropped port calls along Mexico’s western Pacific coast. Both areas have been affected by drug-fueled violence that has cost more than 70,000 lives in the past six years.

The drops contributed to a 1.2 percent decline in overall international tourism to Mexico in 2012.

“We have indications that we may drop one or two places, but we’re not sure because the figures aren’t ours, they are from the World Tourism Organization,” Ruiz Massieu said Monday.

The WTO regional director for the Americas, Carlos Vogeler, said Tuesday it may be less a story of Mexico losing tourists, than about other countries making big gains and overtaking Mexico.

“You have to take into account that there are countries that have made a great deal of progress in attracting international visitors,” Vogeler said. “For example, Russia has improved its figures, Malaysia has improved its own, and Austria. There are a number of countries that have increased their numbers significantly.”

And he noted Mexico has continued to gain in tourism revenues. Income from International tourists rose 7.1 percent in 2012, despite the decline in the number of visitors.

“According to our initial data, Mexico has increased its income, apparently because people who arrive by air (rather than crossing a land border or arriving on a cruise ship) generally spend more time, and more money, in the country,” Vogeler said.

Ruiz Massieu seemed fairly calm about the whole affair.

“What this administration and the Tourism Department are doing is looking to the future. … We want to be more competitive globally. We want to diversify our tourism industry,” Ruiz Massieu said, referring to efforts to diversify beyond what has long been the country’s staple: American tourists visiting beach resorts.

While she did not offer specific figures, Ruiz Massieu said Mexico had attracted a large number of spring break visitors this year.

“The spring breakers season is ending and we had a very strong turnout at our main resorts. … We’re very happy that we continue to be a favorite destination for that sector,” she said.

Tourism industry sources say that some Mexican resorts such as Cancun appear almost immune to problems in other parts of the country. The Travel Leaders Group, a network of independently owned and operated travel agencies in the U.S., noted that Cancun continues to be the second-most popular destination among Americans.

“It appears that travelers are quite savvy on the situation in Mexico and understand that there are many popular and safe destinations to visit,” Travel Leaders spokeswoman Kathy Gerhardt wrote earlier this year. “Also, many people are repeat visitors to Mexico. Based on their past experience in a particular destination or at a particular resort, they feel very comfortable traveling there again.”

 

We can add the recent higher costs and additional hassles for obtaining visas. Mexico has raised the bar considerably for those wanting extended stays.

Tourism has been down in the Puerto area for some years now relating to U.S. citizens coming down. But, the town fills up with Chilangos (folks from Mexico City) and other Mexican tourists during Easter (NOW) and Christmas.

Will dropping off the list cause the powers that be to rethink some of its policies? Time will tell. We are still waiting for our permanent Mexican visas; 3 months and counting.

Stay Tuned!

  • tancho

    Still no visas? I forgot about that, figured you already had them etc. Other parts of the country are reporting couple of weeks, wonder what the issue is?
    I read the article and was saddened of what impact it will have on the tourism economy, but a little happy since selfishly means less people to share the enjoyment of this vast country with

  • John Calypso

    Tancho – Yes, still waiting – seems to be normal around here. Supposedly 30 days from finger printing which we are closing in on.

    As you suggest tourism is not something I am wishing for – at the same time I wish all of Mexico’s commerce to be successful.

  • Kim G

    Frankly, given all the hysteria about the drug violence, I’m surprised that the tourist numbers aren’t worse. People who know I travel there frequently are constantly asking me about drug violence, and whether it’s really safe to go to Mexico. Since I don’t want to be a pollyanna, I typically give them a nuanced, honest answer. Some get it, some don’t. But I’ve even had people ask me about Cancún which has to be one of the safer spots in the country, at least as far as drug violence is concerned. Also one of the least Mexican places in the country too, so I usually try to steer people toward somewhere more interesting like Puerto Vallarta.

    As for tourist visas, they remain amazingly easy to get. You just fill out the form on the plane, and they rubber-stamp it. You, Sr. Calypso, can’t really drop yourself into the tourist bucket since you are a resident.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    A location infamous for the difficulty of getting a tourist visa. Particularly if you are Kim G’s Mexican BF.

  • Steve Cotton

    I start my new visa process on Monday when I return south with my mother and brother. We will see how efficient the Manzanillo office is.

  • John Calypso

    Have heard that it may be as long as 30 days after you reach the point of having been finger printed. Three months just seems too long for all the red tape.

  • John Calypso

    Kim – Even the tourists visas are costing more and under greater scrutiny these days. But, yes the real changes of late relate to part-time and permanent expat visas.

    As far as crime and such – see the next entry ;-)

  • Kim G

    What do you mean by tourist visas “costing more and under greater scrutiny these days?” I’ve never paid a single peso for a tourist visa, and a bored glance at my passport is about all the scrutiny I’ve ever experienced too.

    It’s delightfully easy to enter Mexico as a tourist. At least for this Gringo tourist.

    Kim G

  • John Calypso

    I mean the entry into Mexico via an FMT, FMM, or tourista visa has gone up in price – you probably get one with your airline ticket – believe it or not there is a visitor visa and they have gone up in price in the last few years Everyone that comes in as a tourists by land or air pays for the privilege to be in this country.

    And I have been reading that they have been checking tourists for entry paperwork in airports and bus stations for some unknown reason. Also I understand that folks that have been going back and forth across the border and living down here, avoiding getting a more permanent type visa that requires financial disclosure etc., are being checked more thoroughly.

    Also there are rumors that they are going to make getting a six month tourist entrance more difficult including requiring financial condition proving one can afford to be in the country for longer times like 3-6 months. For a time recently in cases of flight entry a maximum of 3 months was set rather than the six months obtainable when driving in. Most of this representing a desire to keep out hippie types or such – apparently there has been a lot of panhandling by foreigners on the streets of some cities. BUT, now that Pena Nieto is in office they seem to have taken a reversal of positions on all this. These more stringent issues at the tourist level may be settling back as they were a Fox and Calderon mission.

  • Kim G

    I just booked a ticket to Mexico via miles on United, and got the following schedule of taxes and fees:

    Fare Breakdown
    Airfare: 0.00 USD (Gotta love that!)
    U.S. Customs User Fee: 5.50 (AND they make you throw out your cold cuts!!!)
    U.S. Immigration User Fee: 7.00 (I’m not an immigrant, but they’re charging me anyway.)
    U.S. APHIS User Fee: 5.00 (Don’t ask me what this is; I’ve never knowingly used an “aphis.”)
    September 11th Security Fee: 7.50 (Fee to close barn doors after horses escaped.)
    Mexico Tourism Tax: 23.20 (Next time someone tries to charge me a cover charge, I’ll remind them I’ve already paid.)
    Mexico Departure Tax: 27.14 (Apparently more expensive to leave than enter. Curious.)
    Per Person Total: 75.34 USD
    eTicket Total: 75.34 USD

    So you are right!!! I am paying to enter Mexico. Let’s pray you are wrong about me getting hassled, though. (I don’t look like a hippie.) So far it’s been very smooth. And even though I never stay for more than 25 days or so (and indicate so on my visa form), they always give me 180 days to stay.

    I did once get panhandled by a blonde gringa in front of the Hilton facing Parque Alameda in DF, who had a long and sad story about how she ran out of money. Against my better judgment, I gave her 200 pesos. But this doesn’t seem like a big enough problem to change the entire immigration system to combat.

    F can’t stand him, and thinks he stole the election, but I’m impressed with Peña Nieto’s early moves.

    Kim G

  • John Calypso

    I do not think you fall into any category of suspicion or persona non grata – in fact probably quite the contrary – I mean hey we all like you Kim. As far as Peña Nieto – I believe that the gossip that says he is just a pretty boy front man for the old regime is probably true – but I like the fact he went out of the starting blocks arresting that rip -off teacher’s union leader. But then I am a libertarian and not wild about any government authority – even though – even though – I KNOW some organized government is required. I will be quiet now….