Mexico has faced some daunting challenges to its renowned tourism business in the past few years – from swine flu to heavily armed narco-trafficking cartels – which get more traction in the “if it bleeds, it leads” English-language news cycle than all the other great stories coming out of the country combined.
Success is in the Numbers – and the News
Their efforts have paid off, with tourism rising 1.8% in 2011, with a total of 15.2 million tourists in the first eight months. Cruise ships are returning to Mexican ports; international tourism fairs are being held in Mexico City and Chiapas; Emmy Award-winning travel journalist, Peter Greenberg, took the Royal Tour of Mexico’s top tourist destinations with President Calderon; and perhaps most surprisingly, there has been a 9.4% increase in tourism on the US borders, often characterized by US news as the most dangerous part of the country.
Despite the very real and very serious drug war – and associated murders of between 25,000 and 44,000 people in Mexico since 2006 – tourists are still more likely to be struck by lightning in the USA than die in Mexico. The drug war is also localized. All the tourist destinations are fine,” says Tourism Minister, Gloria Guevara. “It depends on what you like, but there are a lot of places you should visit and have a great time.”
“Baja California Sur, which includes Cabo San Lucas, La Paz and Loreto, has a homicide rate 26 times lower than Orlando, 18 times lower than Miami, 17 times lower than West Palm Beach and 12 times lower than Tampa and Honolulu,” says the Los Angeles Times. “Almost ditto for Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun and the Riviera Maya.” Several studies have confirmed these findings.
Creative Marketing – on Wheels
Thus, Mexico is coming out with a new US$30 million ad blitz, the Mexico Taxi Project, which will feature real-life vacationers arriving back from South of the Border getaways. The idea: “Americans talking to Americans to communicate that it is a great place and a safe place,” tourism board Chief Marketing Officer, Gerardo Llanes, told USA Today.
Akin to Candid Camera, taxi drivers will ask travelers returning to the airport from vacations in top destinations like Cancun about their stay in Mexico. After they answer, the cameras are revealed and releases signed, so that their impromptu interviews can be posted to the Mexico Taxi Project website. The campaign will also include television ads, social media outlets, and many other marketing vectors that the hardest working ministry of tourism in the Americas has optimized.
In addition to keeping one of the nation’s most important economic sectors stable and profitable during this difficult period, Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism is also earning worldwide recognition for their innovative approach to marketing. On October 20, 2011, they were unanimously selected by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for a seat on the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization.
Despite what people may think, there’s plenty of good news in Mexico, where tourism is still alive and kicking.