Mexico's new president, citing a lack of transparency in how funds are spent, appears to be following through with reported plans to shutter the country's international tourism offices and cut funding to promote inbound tourism.
Although the government has made no official announcement, there have been numerous reports in Mexico's news media in recent months that president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador planned to shut the Tourism Promotion Council and shift its $295 million annual budget to construction of a railroad connecting tourism destinations and villages across the Mayan Peninsula.
In an email to Travel Weekly, Pablo Azcarraga, who chairs both the Mexican hotel chain Grupo Posadas and Consejo Nacional Empresarial Turistico (CNET), the voice of Mexico's private tourism sector, said Thursday that the private sector "is in the process of negotiating with the federal government a new proposal to create a new joint entity that will manage the advertising and promotion funds."
Azcarraga continued: "I have a programmed meeting with the secretary of finance to discuss the urgent need for the funds and the impact that tourism has in the Mexican economy."
Ray Snisky, chief commercial officer for Apple Leisure Group's vacations sector, one of the largest U.S. sellers of Mexico travel packages, said the new administration "is turning its back on the tourism industry, which drives employment and fuels the Mexican economy, at the worst possible time ever."
"Now more than ever it is vital for the government to work in collaboration with the private sector to promote this spectacular tourism offering," he said. "Other destinations continue to gain market share, and it will only get worse without a united promotional strategy."
Snisky said Apple Leisure Group is enhancing its working relationship with Mexico's state tourism offices, "but that fragmented strategy loses some of the cohesive leverage we were able to gain previously by engaging consumers and travel counselors with the entirety of the destination of Mexico in a singular campaign."
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.