Welcome back to another edition of Backroom Banter. In recent posts, I have written about my visit to Mexico City to attend F.I.T.A., the International Tourism Fair of the Americas. It was my privilege on that trip to meet Carlos Mackinlay (aka Mr. Insider), the Minister of Tourism for Mexico City. He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.
Q. What are some of the greatest challenges your tourism department faces in increasing traffic to Mexico City from the United States?
A. The challenges can be summarized in one word: promotion, promotion and more promotion. Long ago Mexico City stepped away from promotion and public relations campaigns to major destinations sending tourists to this great nation and, specifically, Mexico City.
A destination that is not promoted properly is susceptible to disappear in the minds of travelers. Therefore we have taken on the task of launching a major public relations campaign which fortunately is proving to be very successful.
Q. What are three or four things most Americans don’t know about Mexico City but would find intriguing if they did know?
A. First it is important for American tourists to renew their confidence in Mexico City and to consider it again as a premier destination. Our neighbors to the north should know that our city is safe and that they can be confident that their visit to Mexico City provides all the conditions for a pleasant stay.
Perhaps the second thing that must be considered is that the last Government Administration of the city has completely remodeled traditional tourist areas, the historic center, the Paseo de la Reforma, the southern area of the city and many other important sites.
Many people might be surprised to learn that Mexico City is the only city with four world heritage sites, six archaeological sites, 1400 colonial buildings, 7000 classified monuments and the incredible number of 174 museums. Some have called it the “cultural capitol of the world”.
Finally, we are about to launch a most ambitious program of tourism aimed especially to the American public, that is, the upcoming platform of medical tourism. The city will provide American visitors the possibility to have highly specialized surgeries performed in the best private hospitals in our city at a cost substantially lower than they might find in their own country.
Q. What impact do you expect the new AeroMexico flights from Dallas / Fort Worth to Mexico City will have on traffic?
A. It is obvious that the new flights from Dallas to Mexico City will offer greater access to Mexico for American tourists. Dallas / Fort Worth is a huge hub as well as a region that is home to many Mexican Americans. Also, iy is a very convenient gateway for those living in cities without direct flights to Mexico.
Q. Recently you held a series of road shows with travel agents in several key US markets. Does this indicate a new initiative on the part of your department?
A. It does. We are absolutely convinced that the traditional ways of promoting tourism such as road shows have a big impact on our strategic partners, the U.S. travel agent community. These travel agents have a fundamental responsibility towards their customers: to provide vibrant, interesting and safe travel destinations as well as excellent levels of service. We know that they are committed to their customers. We trust them as our ambassadors in the U.S. and, in turn, we want them to grow to trust us to deliver a quality destination.
Q. Finally, what would you like to see travel agents do to better promote Mexico City as a destination?
A. Travel agents in the United States and the Ministry of Tourism of Mexico City must mutually strengthen our relationships. We have made available to them our web site www.mexicocityexperience.com as a way to keep updated about the city and its events. As strategic partners, we encourage travel agents to be very proactive in offering Mexico City as a viable destination and we are quite happy to give them the tools to do so.
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Carlos, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your unique insights on Mexico City. My own recent visit only reinforced Mexico City’s status as a world class destination.
Let me know, dear reader, if you would like to know more.