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More Canadians catching on to Mexico's diverse tourism appeal: MTB

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  •   04-02-2015  9:12 am
More Canadians catching on to Mexico's diverse tourism appeal: MTB

Canadian travellers seeking off-the-beaten path experiences are evidently realizing that they don't have to venture much further than their favourite destinations, as the Mexico Tourism Board (MTB) in Canada reported a record 1.7 million arrivals in 2014, up 4.8 per cent over the year prior.

According to Rodrigo Esponda, the MTB's regional director for North America, such numbers are especially impressive considering that Canada is considered a "mature market."

2014 was a positive year for growth for the destination overall, welcoming 29.1 million tourists - a whopping five million more than in 2013.

So, what is it about this ever-popular, often criticized country that makes it such a hotspot for travellers from around the globe?

Throughout the past number of years, the tourism office has made it a point to promote a destination that appeals to the senses beyond the sun and beach - a rich history, gastronomical experiences, cultural immersion and natural beauty, in addition to emphasizing its safety. 

Evident by arrival statistics, the approach is paying off, also demonstrated by a trend in new regions or experiences being offered to consumers by traditional tour operators.

"There has been an effort to differentiate the product that Mexico offers, and I think the consumers are getting it; they know that the type of experience available in Mexico is very sophisticated and the operators have seen it and incorporated it into their product," Esponda told PAX.

Not to mention, there has been a constant growth in airlift to destinations across Mexico from various Canadian gateways, now more than ever connecting travellers to less traditional choices. For example, WestJet recently launched service to Loreto from Calgary, and Air Canada rouge will be adding five flights weekly connecting Montreal to Mexico City, complimenting the existing service with Aeromexico. Next month will also see the addition of daily Toronto-Mexico City service with Aeromexico as well.

Acapulco is one option that lost some of its luster over the past few years, but tourism representatives agree that the return of the recent Tianguis Turistico conference to the destination after three years away may be what it needed for a true revival. Manuel Montelongo, director of the MTB - Montreal, admitted that it took convincing to get some Canadian buyers onboard to attend this year's conference because of safety issues that have plagued the host city, but those same individuals are now raving about it.

"Speak about perception - at the beginning, they were scared to come and now they're saying, 'Wow, this is Acapulco!'" he said. "Now that they are here, I think they fell in love with the destination. Each company offers something unique, but what all of them have in common is that they are positively surprised by Acapulco."

The 40th annual Tianguis has also perpetuated conversation around increased connectivity and a mission by tour companies to further diversify their product offering, whether that be to focus more on group travel - from meetings and incentives to weddings - culture, nature and so on. Throughout the four-day event, Minister of Tourism Claudia Ruiz Massieu reiterated how all entities and federal government agencies have been working together to strengthen "more of our offered segments,"from the sun and beach - a segment that gives structural strength to our country, and every day we are trying to innovate and complement it to stay competitive - to other trendsetting segments around the world, in which we have great potential, such as cultural tourism, which is revealed as one of the fastest growing globally."

She sees Mexico as having an "enormous competitive advantage" in this segment, thanks to its more than 40,000 archaeological sites, 10 heritage cities and 30-plus world heritage sites.

Esponda said that the MTB will continue to have a constant presence in the Canadian market, highlighting the vast tourism product available across the country.

One specific initiative is an exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Archeology and History, titled The Aztecs: People of the Sun, which will start May 29.

"That will allow more Quebecers to see more about the pre-Hispanic culture and it will motivate more people to travel to Mexico City," Montelongo said.

In addition, the tourism office will be working more to attract the ethnic markets across Canada, particularly Asian travellers from Western Canada.