We recently had the opportunity to interview Cesar Mendoza, Regional Director for Canada for the Mexican Tourism Board, about growth in the number of Canadians traveling to Mexico. Mendoza said that numbers have been steadily increasing this year, and by the end of the year they expect a record-breaking volume of travelers. That underscores the confidence Canadian travelers have in Mexico as a tourist destination. Cesar also noted the challenges that Mexico faces and the way to overcome them; as well as expected tendencies such as focusing on the segments of culture and traditions of Mexico, to give Canadian travelers unique experiences that will inspire them. To conclude the interview, he told us what the Mexican Tourism Board expects for 2019.
As background information, it is worth noting that Canada is an important source of visitors to Mexico (datatur), second only to the United States since 2006. Canadians not only travel to beach destinations but flock to cultural festivals, because of the ancestral abundance and their values. Therefore, according to Cesar “Mexico will keep creating/developing experiences to traditional and non-traditional destinations, tailor-made for new generations of travelers such as millennials”.
What are the results for 2018 in terms of numbers, and what do you expect for the end of the season?
According to the latest report from the Mexican Tourism Board, between January-August 2018, Mexico received 12.6 million international visitors by air. That represents a 5% increase over the same period in 2017. During that same period, 1.5 million Canadian visitors traveled to Mexico by air, which is a 15% increase over to 2017. By the end of 2018, for the first time ever, Mexico expects to welcome the arrival of over 2 million Canadian visitors, expecting a final number of 2.2 million, that would represent an increase of almost 12% compared to 2017.
Challenges that Mexico faces for 2019?
There are different factors (negative and positive) that affect the flow of tourists to our country. Among the positive factors that benefit an increase in the flow of Canadians to México is the exchange rate (CAD vs USD), making it more attractive to travel to Mexico than any other destination in the United States. The economic factor of a possible recession causes Canadians to react in advance and postpone or change travel plans.
On the other hand, the immigration rhetoric in the USA has fostered a change in Canadian travel plans for many who now decide to visit Mexico instead. Another factor that affects the tourism industry, are natural disasters like the hurricanes that unfortunately affected some Caribbean islands. That creates a positive flow of travelers to Mexico from Canada and other countries.
The biggest challenge that our country must face for the 2018-2019 season, is the perception of insecurity. Mexico makes very important and significant efforts, to fight groups that negatively affect the country’s image; and at the same time, we work to communicate events and news in the right context. For example, sensationalist notes that do not specify the exact location of negative events, immediately impact reservations to tourist destinations in Mexico. Canadian travelers are very objective in comparison to US travelers at the moment of making travel decisions. However, negative news affects the image and in most cases, the final destination choice.
What are the predictions and tendencies for travel to Mexico in 2019?
Mexico’s commercial allies, especially airlines and tour operators, continue growing business ties with Mexico. Our forecast for 2019 shows an increase in the number of seats per plane to Mexico by 10% versus 2018. Recently the Mexican airline Interjet started operations in the Canadian market with flights to Cancun and Mexico City from the main airports in Canada. This has resulted in an increase of an additional 184,000 seats for 2018. The low-cost airline Swoop just announced flights from YHM airport in Hamilton, Ontario to Cancun and Puerto Vallarta starting in January 2019; and on January the 12th they will start operating a flight from YXX in Abbotsford to Puerto Vallarta and on January the 20th to Mazatlán.
In 2019, the Mexican Tourism Board will continue with their strategy of distinguishing beach and sun destinations from others, and highlighting their competitive advantages and emphasizing the value that they offer through the segments such as culture, gastronomy among other. Equally, Mexico will continue developing new experiences in our traditional and non-traditional destinations, to tailor to the needs of new generations, specifically “millennials.” We are not only looking to increase the number of travelers, as we would love to see every traveler venture out of their hotels and enjoy the wonderful attractions and delightful Mexican food.
What is Cesar Mendoza’s opinion?
Canada is our second largest source of international travelers to Mexico after the U.S. In 2017, 1.9 million plus Canadians arrived in Mexico, that translates in an increase of 9% more than the previous year, as I mentioned we expect to close 2018 with a 12% increase. Air Canada, Aeromexico, Air Transat, Interjet, Sunwing and Westjet are some of our main commercial allies that operate between Canada and Mexico on a regular basis from 23 airports in Canada and 13 Mexican destinations.
Due to the geographic characteristics of Canada (the second largest country in the world), the cultural characteristics of each region and the French language in the Province of Quebec, Mexico’s Tourism Board features three offices in Canada which are based in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. We work very closely with the local tourism industry and analyze aspects and tendencies that affect the flow of tourism.
Having a presence in the three main regions of Canada allows us to take the correct actions in conjunction with our head office in Mexico.
We would like to thank Cesar for taking the time to answer our questions and sharing this valuable and interesting information.
The responses outlined above support the premise that market intelligence is crucial for decision-making around defining and developing the best marketing strategy. By doing this we can determine with precision how to best fit into the market to meet the needs of consumers, identify areas of opportunity for market penetration and for market development, among others. All of that will help to increase and retain customers, generate revenue, and generate leads. Furthermore interpreting market intelligence is key for long-term results.
Mauricio Ruiz Arnaut