Who comes after China?

RUMOUR has it, the next big thing in tourism could be Mexico.

The Latin American country records the largest number of outbound tourists among all Mint (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) nations and is catching up fast with some of the biggest Bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries.

With 15.9 million departures in 2013, Mexico has the highest number of international flight departures among the Mint nations. Turkey only recorded 8 million outbound tourists in 2013, Indonesia 7.9 million and Nigeria’s outbound tourism numbers were as low as 1.4 million.

Although Mexico is no serious competition for China just yet, it has already outpaced one of the Bric nations, Brazil (8.6 million outbound trips), and draws level with India (16 million trips). Arnie van Groesen, analyst at Timetric, provider of industry data and analysis, says, “Considering that India’s population is ten times larger than Mexico’s, the fact that both countries record almost the same number of departures is quite astonishing. Mexico is definitely a tourism giant on the rise.”

At the moment approximately 90 per cent of outbound trips from Mexico are going to the US, where many Mexicans have friends and family. However, Mexico is not included in the US Visa Waiver Programme, which makes it difficult for Mexicans to enter the US. This promises great potential for tourism destinations outside the US, such as European countries, where Mexicans can travel visa-free.

Although France and Spain are already the second- and third-most popular destinations for Mexicans, with 174,000 outbound trips and 115,000 trips in 2013 respectively, there is still room for growth. Van Groesen adds, “Unfortunately, Mexico is poorly connected to the rest of the world. More non-US international connections will need to be created to attract the growing outbound Mexican market and reduce the industry’s dependence on the US.”

In order to become more attractive for tourists from Mexico, other countries will also have to compete with Mexcio’s large and well developed domestic tourism market. This might prove to be a challenge, as Mexico itself already offers plenty of variety, ranging from vast jungles and white beaches to sandy deserts and ancient temples. Van Groesen says, “Most Central American countries are too similar to Mexico to be serious competitors, although cheap holiday packages might be an option. European tourism boards, on the other hand, could succeed in attracting more Mexican tourists by devoting more of their budget to promoting their country in the Mexican media.”