By Ian Stalker
Mexico had been enjoying steady increases in the number of Canadian vacationers it’s been hosting in the past few years, a trend that reversed itself this year as the coronavirus pandemic sent international travel into a tailspin.
But Jose Roberto Islas Telich, who heads the the tourism promotion section at the Mexican embassy in Ottawa, reports his homeland will close out 2020 by still having played host to a large number of people from this country.
“Travel from Canadians to Mexico has increased constantly since 2016, thanks to the expansion of air connectivity,” he says. “Interest in Mexico continues to grow; Mexico holds the seventh place among the most visited countries globally. We registered close to 2.5 million Canadians who travelled for leisure or business in 2019.
“The current situation has dramatically affected the tourism flows. Still, despite the pandemic, the Ministry of Tourism reports that for the first 9 months of 2020, more than 900,000 Canadians have traveled to Mexico. This represents around 45% less than in the same period last year but our numbers are starting to climb as the holidays and winter temperatures approach. It is also noticeable that there is optimism in the travel industry now that soon there will be a vaccine available.
Winter’s arrival and growing hope about the imminent availability of a vaccine that will provide protection against coronavirus has Islas Telich and his colleagues confident that Mexican tourism is on the verge of a recovery.
He adds that Mexico’s geographic location offers “the best option for every traveller who wishes to have quality vacations with the best possible service and a short flight distance.
“Mexico also offers a huge variety of destinations besides our most popular sun and beach spots. We encourage the Canadian traveller to discover beyond our most popular destinations and explore less known corners; cities like Puebla and Oaxaca offers some of the very best cultural and gastronomical experiences. Our Magical Towns can please even the most demanding traveller. Make sure to take a look at Visit Mexico ‘s website: https://www.visitmexico.com/en/.
“Depending on the state, our destinations are open and operating between 30-50% capacity to guarantee health and safety protocols.”
Mexican tourism officials are pointing out to those considering visiting the country that they won’t have to quarantine upon arrival or while in transit within the country. They are asked to bear in mind that general health and safety guidelines recommend that residents and visitors alike wear masks while outside of their personal accommodations and maintain social distancing.
“Implementing hygiene protocols and personnel training in the tourism sector has the most crucial importance in our destinations,” Islas Telich states. “Mexico can demonstrate that the health of its visitors is a priority, and, for this, it has two distinctive signs that show the implementation of health protocols in the daily operations of the tourism industry:
“The first, developed at the national level and the result of the collaboration of various state ministries, is the Clean Point Quality Seal V2020 (Punto Limpio), a recognition granted by the Ministry of Tourism to companies in the tourism sector that demonstrate having implemented a methodology for health care in areas such as hygienic quality, training of personnel and implementation of good sanitary practices.
“Our destinations have also implemented the Safe Travels seal protocol developed by the World Travel and Tourism Council, with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), governments and health experts. The badge recognizes the full and correct application of hygiene and sanitation protocols recommended by the WHO.
“More than 20 states in Mexico use both quality seals, and around 700 companies have the Punto Limpio V2020 quality seal in the private sector. It should be noted that, in May, Cancun — one of the favourite sun and beach places of Canadians — was the first destination in the American continent to receive the Safe Travels distinction. These measures are placing Mexico at the forefront of implementing bio-sanitary measures
“Mexico worries about protecting our visitor’s health and the health of people that will take care of them and their families.”