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Gone but not forgotten…
It’s been several years since the Mexican government closed all Mexico Tourism Board offices, including those in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, a move that some quickly predicted would be damaging to Mexico’s ability to market itself to Canadians.
The Mexican government announced when making the move that diplomatic missions would handle tourism promotion.
Among those who served as a director of the tourist board’s Toronto office is Jorge Gamboa, who recalls how a well-funded office would conduct sales blitzes, visit tour operators to encourage them to offer Mexican destinations and participate in co-op programs.
“Now without those offices there is nobody in the official government that can accomplish what we used to,” states Gamboa, now living in the U.S. and promoting several Mexican destinations from the private sector.
Jorge Solana, who served as director of the Toronto office from 1995 to 2000, believes the closures of the offices was detrimental to Mexican tourism.
“The data shows that just in the first year of the actual administration there was some growth, but that I would attribute to the work done the previous season when the contracts were closed and the product was still fresh in the minds of the consumers based on past campaigns and promotional efforts,” he says. “Then Covid came and I think that any marketing plan would not have changed the collapse of the whole industry worldwide.
“But it is not only the closing of the promotional offices abroad what damaged Mexico’s intake of foreign tourists, it was also the complete lack of interest and (the lack of a) comprehensive, well informed, and professional approach to this industry by the actual Mexican federal government. Who can forget when Mexico’s tourism URL went off line for lack of payment, or when they uploaded the new one, the English version, which was made obviously by a translation engine with incredibly inane mistakes attributed to literal translation that no one cared to edit before presenting it to the world? This is only one example in which the incompetence of the actual administration has damaged the image of Mexico as one of the best tourism products in the world. Obviously, the violence, lack of accountability, corruption and rampant crime have taken a toll in the tourism sector and the only thing that helped keep some international tourists coming was the complete lack of requirements regarding Covid that the Mexican government instituted during the pandemic,” he continues, adding his tourism board tenure resulted in his making good friends and leaving him with wonderful memories.
Toronto Uniglobe Enterprise travel agent Ethel Hansen Davey says she continues to regret the tourism office closures.
“I miss the accessibility of the Mexican Tourism Board and the helpful people there,” says Hansen Davey, who’s very involved in Mexican tourism. “I’m working on a honeymoon for a couple that will visit four states in Mexico and I’m having to contact various state tourism boards there to put the individual components together. Having the office here in Toronto would have simplified my research since they would have the necessary information at hand, or at the very least, a quick contact name and email for me.
“Fortunately for two of the states involved in this itinerary, I have made good contacts in their tourist boards as part of my involvement in Tianguis Turistico (Mexico’s tourism show) and ATMEX and as well I have a contact person in Mexico City.
“I do wish that the government of Mexico would open a new office in Toronto. I live in hope.”
Consuelo Miller of Trip Support Inc. believes that Mexico is “very confident that it sells by itself.”
Miller labels the Latin American country a “great destination” but adds it “should still have a presence” in this country in the same way that the likes of Cuba and the Dominican Republic do.
Mexico is far from the only country to have closed its Canadian tourist office, something that disappoints Paul Nielsen of Paragon Travel in Toronto.
“The agency perspective on tourist boards is that they are critical to a great relationship between Canada and each beautiful destination,” he says. “They are a wonderful source of information. They are our advocates when working with hotels and destination experiences.
“They guide the industry in the best ways to design destination experiences that match the visitor to the uniqueness of each country.
“In other words, they are the framework for everybody’s experience. We love them and we need them.”
However, Hansen Davey adds that some of the countries that have closed Canadian tourist offices are now represented by the likes of VoX International and Jesson, who she praised for doing a “very good job.”
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