Tourism is a significant component of the Mexican economy, directly accounting for 8.0% of national GDP and 5.8% of the total workforce in 2019. The impacts of the pandemic saw tourism’s contribution to GDP fall to 6.3% in 2020 or MXN 1.5 billion. Tourism employment fell by 12.3% to 2.0 million employees, or 5.3% of the workforce. Travel exports represented 77.5% of total service exports in 2019, which fell to 64.5% in 2020.

International tourism expenditure accounted for 17.9% of total tourism expenditure in 2019. This fell to 13.4% in 2020, driven by a 46.1% decline in international overnight visitors (down to 24.3 million). A rebound was recorded in 2021 but remained 29.2% below 2019 numbers despite Mexico’s top market, the United States (32% of the total market), almost returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Domestic tourism was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with domestic overnight visitors falling 52.7% to 48.0 million in 2020, down from a record high of 101.7 million visitors in 2019. Nights in hotels and similar establishments fell 52.4% to 83.1 million.

Mexico expects international tourism expenditure to return to 2019 levels in 2022.

The Ministry of Tourism is responsible for leading the design and implementation of public policies to strengthen tourism development. This includes promoting innovation in the sector, improving the quality of tourism services and the competitiveness of national tourism, and promoting strategies that articulate governmental priorities and contribute to the sustainable and inclusive growth of tourism. FONATUR is Mexico’s agency for the development of tourism investment.

Three co-ordination mechanisms contribute to formulating strategies and actions to achieve a comprehensive development of national tourism activity. These mechanisms are:

  • The Executive Tourism Commission, an inter-ministerial body whose purpose is to fully understand and resolve tourism-related matters.

  • The Tourism Advisory Council, whose purpose is to suggest strategic responses and co-ordinate actions with the agencies of the Federal Government, with the full participation of the public and private sectors, to achieve comprehensive development of tourism activity.

  • The National Tourism Conference, a co-ordinating body between the three levels of government, is in charge of establishing the policy, planning and programming of tourist activity throughout Mexico.

In the Ministry of Tourism, the Tlatocan, or ‘Great Council’, for tourism sustainability has been established, which brings together more than 130 participants. Among these are dependencies of the Mexican government, international organisations, civil society, indigenous communities, social enterprises, private companies and academia.

The Tourism Sectorial Programme 2020-24 (PROSECTUR) is the framework that governs National Tourism Policy in Mexico. It derives from and relates to the National Development Plan 2019-24. PROSECTUR contains four priority objectives:

  • Guarantee a social approach and respect for human rights in tourism.

  • Promote the balanced development of tourism destinations in Mexico.

  • Strengthen the diversification of tourism markets at national and international levels.

  • Promote sustainable tourism in the national territory.

PROSECTUR involves social, ethical and economic redevelopment aimed at promoting tourism as a right that includes all population sectors, especially the most vulnerable. The goal is for tourism activity to permeate all regions, destinations and communities as a tool for social integration and reconciliation to create well-being for all. A report has been undertaken on the progress and results obtained during the fiscal year 2020 in regard to the fulfilment of the priority objectives and well-being goals contained in the PROSECTUR framework.

In 2020, the Ministry of Tourism launched the Sustainable Tourism Strategy 2030 in close co-ordination with different government actors, civil society, international organisations, academia, the private sector, and local communities. The Strategy’s objective is to transform the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity to generate a radical change in tourism. The Strategy aims to make Mexico’s destinations benchmarks for sustainable, resilient tourism, encouraging sustainable consumption and production value chains, local communities’ engagement, and biodiversity preservation. It will prioritise the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the tourism economy, with the long-term aim being that future generations will continue to benefit from natural resources that attract tourists. Lines of action include:

  • Promoting sustainable mobility and the concept of ‘zero emissions tourism’: Under this action, tourist bicycle lanes are developed to connect local communities where visitors can travel to natural and cultural destinations. For example, Ciclovía Maya, the largest tourist bikeway in the world, will connect and integrate economic activities for dozens of local communities in the Yucatan Peninsula.

  • Creating solutions for the integrated management of solid waste focused on the goal of zero waste: This includes implementing local models for integrated solid waste management, seeking to generate zero waste and creating destinations free of single-use plastics.

  • Investing in and promoting the sustainable tourism offer: this will be done on multi-channels and new innovative marketing platforms, seeking virtual and physical presence in national and international spaces and events.

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