The Mexican government defunded its national tourism board, forcing some hotel and resort towns south of the border to take matters into their own hands to avoid losing their biggest source of travelers — California.
The result has been the opening of two privately funded tourism offices in Los Angeles.
The hotels and restaurants in Los Cabos, a region in the southern peninsula of Baja California, have pooled their funds to open the Los Cabos Tourism Board in offices in Los Angeles’ Century City section so they can promote their destination to travel agents and others in Southern California.
“The opening of the Los Angeles office was a completely rational and strategic step that we needed to take,” said Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board.
A few miles away in downtown Los Angeles, four former employees of the Mexico Tourism Board launched a private marketing agency, dubbed Studio Jungla, to promote Yucatan and Oaxaca, among other Mexican destinations.
“We have a good relationship with tour operators, with media and with meeting planners here,” said Jorge Gamboa, a former Mexico Tourism Board employee and now staffer at Studio Jungla. “This is a good opportunity to promote Mexico because Mexico is much unprotected.”
The opening of the privately funded offices reflects an effort by Mexican tourism officials to avoid any disruption to the flow of tourists — and dollars — streaming across the border.
For good reason. Mexico had expected to welcome 45 million international visitors who would spend $23.3 billion while in the country in 2019. About 60% of those visitors were expected to come from the U.S. and 18% from California, according to a forecast by Mexican tourism industry experts before the tourism bureau was cut. The visitation numbers for this year were projected to be a 5.8% increase over the previous year.
While the projected growth is good news for Mexico’s tourism industry, it represents a slowdown from the last few years when the number of tourists visiting Mexico had grown by double digits annually.
Mexican tourism officials blame the slowdown on several factors, including a U.S. State Department Travel Advisory issued in April about an increase in crime and kidnappings in several Mexican states, overall concerns about the global economy and the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max plane, which several airlines, including Aeromexico, had planned to use to serve the growing demand for air travel.