Mexico’s tourism industry nets $11.6B in six years

Mexico’s tourism industry nets $11.6B in six years (08/18/2006)
By Jorge Sidron
Private investors have pumped about $11.6 billion into Mexico’s tourism industry in the last six years, exceeding goals set by the federal government for the same period by almost 30%, according to Sectur, Mexico’s ministry of tourism.

In fact, the original tourism investment goal of $9 billion for the 2001 to 2006 period was surpassed in June 2005, after increasing some 12% a year since 2002, Sectur reported.

If all goes as planned, domestic and foreign private investment in the nation’s hotels, airports and tourism attractions is projected to surpass $12 billion by the end of this year.

International investors accounted for 25% of the spending during this period, with U.S.-based companies making up the lion’s share of foreign private money. Spanish companies ranked second among foreign investors.

“The goal now is to elevate the quality and quantity of the tourism product while diversifying the product in an effort to attract even more investment,” said Rodolfo Elizondo Torres, Mexico’s minister of tourism.

At the same time, tourism officials want to focus on attracting “sustainable development” with “rigorous environmental safeguards,” Torres said.

Not surprisingly, Mexico’s beach destinations are the most popular places for investors to spend their money, with destinations like Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun and the Riviera Maya accounting for the bulk of spending.

The top three areas of investment accounting for almost 52% of the $11.6 billion in the last six years were the states of Guerrero ($2.6 billion), where 89% of private investment took place in Acapulco; Quintana Roo ($2.5 billion), where 82% of investment was channeled to Cancun and the Riviera Maya; and Nayarit ($92.5 million), where more than 60% of private investment went to the Pacific resort town of Nuevo Vallarta.

Together, the Mexican states on the U.S.-Mexico border, including Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, garnered 19% of private investment during this period.

Among these states’ top tourist attractions are the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, the La Quemada archaeological sites in Zacatecas, the bustling city of Monterrey in Nuevo Leon and the 200,000-acre Cuatro Cienegas Valley in Coahuila.

Mexico’s push to stimulate tourism and attract private investors began to take shape in 1974 with the creation of the National Trust Fund for Tourism Development (Fonatur).

Since its inception, Fonatur has been responsible for planning and developing five seaside destinations — Cancun, Los Cabos, Ixtapa, Loreto and Huatulco — that generate about 54% of Mexico’s foreign tourism spending.

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