With its beautiful golden beaches, rich indigenous culture and world-renowned cuisine, it’s no wonder that this corner of paradise is one of the world’s most visited countries. Tourism is a key driver of economic growth in Mexico, but with travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing massive drop in the number of tourists, the country´s key economic sector and vital source of employment suddenly became under threat.
COVID-19 RELIEF PROGRAMME FOR TOURISM IN MEXICO
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COUNTRY PROFILE: MEXICO
Mexico is the leading tourism destination in Latin America, welcoming six times more international visitors than its second-place counterpart, Argentina. It’s also where travellers spend the most money. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism has come to a standstill in the country and total tourism consumption is now expected to decrease by approximately 1.6 trillion Mexican pesos (€1.49 billion) in 2020. (Statista)
The picture is one of low hotel occupancy rates, restaurants operating at limited capacity and insecurity due to travel restrictions or quarantine obligations. This means that the tourism sector could see its contribution to national GDP fall below 5% this year, a significant decrease from its previous average of 8.5% between 2010 and 2018.
The reality for entrepreneurs and new businesses is that they have been hardest hit by the sudden drop in tourism. Currently, there are half a million small and medium companies (SMEs), which represents 99.8% of the country’s tourism industry. (INEGI)
"In parallel to the big sun-and-beach businesses, Mexico´s tourism industry is supported in large part by its micro-and small enterprises” says Mauricio Miramontes, Partnerships Director of La Mano del Mono, a Mexican organization developing The Market Ready Model to create certainty in the value chain of ecotourism in order to conserve the country´s natural protected areas and promote the development of its communities. “In ecotourism and adventure tourism, according to the Market Ready Analysis, more than 90% of tourism enterprises were emerging in the industry. With the outbreak of the pandemic, these enterprises were thrown into a situation of uncertainty towards their future, and more than 1 million Mexican families who are trying to complement their livelihoods with tourism are now vulnerable.”
In an effort to mitigate the consequences of the global pandemic, the Mexican Institute for Social Security offered financial support to over 645,000 companies in April - 500,000 of which had less than 5 employees. This aid package was particularly directed at travel agencies and tourism-related businesses.
To help protect as many of the 1.7 million jobs in tourism SMEs as possible and support the recovery and growth of tourism and tourism-related businesses, enpact and the TUI Care Foundation partnered up to implement the COVID-19 Relief Programme for Tourism, funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) between December 2020 and May 2021.
Although this crisis has tested the resilience of the global tourism industry, there’s now an opportunity to come back even stronger than before.
“The coronavirus pandemic was not all bad.” Mauricio states, “the mandatory standstill of the industry has generated the space to change the rules of the game within the industry. New national laws have been developed to define carrying capacities in order to limit overtourism in destinations consisting of natural areas. This ultimately contributes to a more sustainable future for tourism in Mexico”.