bookings already head of 2008, current record year for number of visitors to Mexico
What drug war? Mexico's cabinet-level Secretary of Tourism says Mexico is well on a path toward having the best year ever for the number of people visiting the country on vacation, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"We are already 4.1% better than 2008, and 7.1% better than 2011," Secretary Gloria Guevara Manza told 1200 WOAI news in an interview.
Tourism is Mexico's second largest industry, directly or indirectly employing some 23 million people in Mexico. It is second only to the oil industry in bringing in revenues to Mexico's treasury.
"We are looking forward to breaking a new record in the number of travelers arriving in Mexico, and also have the best year ever in terms of tourist spending money in Mexico," she said.
The banner year for Mexican tourism comes despite the raging narco-war which has claimed an estimated 50,000 lives since December of 2006. The highly unpopular drug war was one of the main reasons why the National Action Party of President Felipe Calderon was trounced in this month's elections.
But Guevara says the message has gotten out, despite blanket travel warnings like those issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety warning people not to go to Mexico, that the drug violence is isolated in certain easily identifiable places, mainly along the Rio Grande in far northern Mexico, and tourist destinations like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta are probably just as safe, if not safer, than the places the visitors live.
She cites several reasons for the boom in Mexican tourism, including a favorable exchange rate for the peso, and the relatively low prices of an all inclusive vacation in a beach resort like Cancun as opposed to a similar resort in Florida or the Mediterranean coast. She also points out that in the past year, the low-cost airline industry has boomed as the flag carrier Mexicana has eased it's stronghold on key routes into the United States.
"We have seen an increasing connectivity with increasing numbers of flights to Mexico," she said.
In fact, there are now four Mexican-based airlines currently offering regular flights from San Antonio to several donations in Mexico, and the number of flights from San Antonio into Mexico has boomed from a dozen three years ago to more than seventy per week today.
And Guevara says 2012 will go out on a super strong note. She says the Mayan 'Doomsday predictions' that the end of the world will happen on December 21st has led to a huge increase in reservations for the latter half of the year.
"A lot of bookings due to the end of the world Maya calendar," she said. "The second half of the year is going to be very strong."