MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s revenues from tourism will drop this year by some $1.4 billion, or 10.5 percent, from the 2008 total of $13.29 billion, the country’s tourism secretary said on Monday.
Rodolfo Elizondo told a press conference that 2009 has been “without a doubt the worst year” in the history of Mexican tourism, due to the global recession and fears sparked by this year’s swine flu epidemic.
He said, however, that the latest data available show that the country has “widely overcome the crisis.”
“There has been a total recovery from the effects of the AH1N1 flu virus on hotel occupation,” Elizondo said in presenting figures for the first 10 months of the year.
The country obtained between January and October $9.19 billion from tourism and welcomed 17.28 million foreign visitors, compared with $11.06 billion and 18.29 million visitors during the same period in 2008.
Tourism is the nation’s third largest source of foreign currency after oil exports and remittances from emigrants in the United States.
The secretary said that Mexico’s principal tourist destinations “were back to 2008 levels and to the percentage of occupation registered before the health alert” caused by the swine flu epidemic detected at the end of April.
He said that the recovery observed “is largely explained by the increase in domestic tourism,” while in vacation centers that depend largely on international visitors such as the Maya Riviera, Cancun and Nuevo Vallarta, “recovery has not been so quick.”
In the first 11 months of 2009, the total number of rooms available at Mexico’s leading tourist destinations increased by 8,000, which required an investment of some $800 million and shows “the solidity of investors’ expectations of recovery in the sector,” he said.
Hotel occupation in the 69 leading tourist cities decreased 4.5 percent between August and the beginning of December, a drop similar to the one seen between January and April before the alert for the flu outbreak.
In the first six months of the year, the arrival of tourists in Mexico fell 6.6 percent, which for the minister represented “a moderate decrease” compared with countries like the United States, Canada and Spain, where arrivals dropped 8.6 percent, 9.2 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively.
In October, not only was the decrease in visitor arrivals from other countries to Mexico halted, but there was an increase of 7.2 percent over the same month in 2008.
For 2010, on the other hand, Elizondo said that Mexico will take in some $13 billion from tourism and will receive some 23 million foreign visitors, figures similar to 2008. EFE