THE MEXICO Tourism Board’s heightened efforts to tap Asian outbound over the past three years have paid dividends, with Chinese visitor numbers growing by an average of 30 per cent per year, culminating in a 32.7 per cent surge in the market in 2011/2012.
On his first official visit to Asia covering Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul, the board’s COO, Rodolfo López-Negrete, said: “We are happy with the result, but not content. We can generate more. Developing business out of Asia is crucial.”
“So far, Japan remains the top market (in Asia). Apart from China, South Korea has also displayed strong growth. About 41,000 South Koreans visited Mexico in 2011, an 11 per cent (year-on-year) increase."
López-Negrete told TTG Asia e-Daily that the board was planning to launch an office in Seoul and had just hired a full-time staff based at the Mexican embassy there. “We are also exploring Shanghai as a second office (in China) after Beijing,” he said.
With only 1,500 visitors per annum from Hong Kong at the moment, López-Negrete agreed that there was much potential for the market to develop. “We need to elevate the level of awareness in Hong Kong. Mexico is not well known here."
He added: "While we target the luxury tier of travellers in Hong Kong, we look to target the growing middle class in China."
According to López-Negrete, limited air connectivity is the main stumbling block to promoting Mexico in Hong Kong and China.
“Even though longhaul connections are available from Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, we don’t have a national carrier. We have held discussions with multiple carriers to launch additional routes. Cathay Pacific is a key player and is interested in (starting flights to) Mexico," he said.