A total of 22,677,390 international tourists visited Mexico in 2011 – a 1.9% increase over 2010, and a new record. The previous record of 22,637,000 was set in 2008.
All of this activity is occurring during the bloodiest period in Mexico in a century - over 47,000 people have died in the country's drug war in the past five years. As well, The United States has recently extended its travel advisory to certain parts of Mexico.
Visitors by air from Canada increased 7%, whereas those from the United States dropped 3% – not so bad, perhaps, given that overall flights out of the United States to other countries dropped by 4.1%, largely due to the economic crisis.
One area that got hit hard was the ocean cruise sector: 2011 saw 5,347,200 cruise line tourists, a decrease of 14.9%. Revenues in this sector fell 11.2%.
The Canadian airline WestJet plans to open five new routes this year, including a direct flight between Calgary and Mexico City. This adds to existing WestJet routes from Canada to Mazatlán, Cabo San Lucas, Cancún, Cozumel, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo y Puerto Vallarta.
She's not too worried
Using guidelines established by the World Tourism Organization, the Bank of Mexico (Banco de México, or “Banxico”) and the Sistema Integral de Operación Migratoria (“SIOM”) broke down the numbers into segments: overnight border travelers, which increased 3.4%, to 9,944.390; and non-frontier tourists, which totaled 12,733.000 persons, a modest increase of 0.7%.
The figures are slightly higher than those estimated by the National Tourism Confederation (CNT), which expected 22,641, 000 tourists, for a total spend of $11,481,500,000.
According to the Banxico/SIOM numbers, when looking exclusively at international visitors by air, December saw year-over-year growth of 13%, November 6.7%, October 8.2%, September 12.7%, and August 1.2%.
On a country-by-country basis, there were some surprising increases: Brazil, 66%; Russia, 55%; Peru, 37%; China, 30%; Colombia, 23.2%; Argentina, 18%; Italy, 13%; Australia, 13%; United Kingdom, 11.6%; France, 10%; Japan, 9.3; and Canada, 7%.
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