The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2011 was released this week. Penned by the World Economic Forum (WEF), it assesses and ranks countries based on a host of data. It is aimed at business investors rather than tourists; providing expert analyses on the wisdom of investing capital in a country's tourism industry. Though, of course, what is good for the money-makers naturally has to be fantastic for those on vacation. If it wasn't, then tourists would stop coming and the investors would lose their profits.
Only the USA, Canada and Barbados have beaten Mexico, as attractive tourist destinations, in the Americas. It is a placement that has thrilled Tourism Secretary, Gloria Guevara Manzo, "The report demonstrates that Mexico is moving in a positive direction. Our country has incomparable character, culture and charm that we want to share with the world and it is rewarding to see that it is recognized and appreciated."
The panel looks at 14 categories, when evaluating the tourism industry of any country. They dig down, into the nitty-gritty, with several sub-categories within those headings. The final assessment is based on it all.
Mexico did well in several categories, with the highlights listed here (all rankings out of 139, in a league of countries):
* FIRST! Mexico ranked number one, as the country with the largest presense of major car rental companies. Ok, not massively exciting, but it did boost the country's standing in the 'Tourism Infrastructure' category. It's also very reassuring those those wishing to hire a car here.
* FIFTH! Mexico was in the top five, as the 'number of World Heritage cultural sites' were assessed. The country boasts 33 such sites, including one of the New Wonders of the World, Chichén Itzá.
* NINTH! The megadiverse nature of Mexico's flora and fauna earned it a top ten ranking in the sub-category of 'Total Known Species', in the category of 'Natural Resources'. But biologists and nature-lovers have known this for years.
* TENTH! Some of the most stunning landscapes in the world are in Mexico, including Copper Canyon, Chevé Cave and El Triunfo. This has resulted in another top ten ranking, in the category of 'Number of World Heritage Natural Sites'.
The country's transport system was praised. The number of domestic airline seats was ranked 11th, with international airline seats trailing only shortly behind at 22nd out of the 139 countries inspected. The number of operating airlines was ranked at 26th. Also in the top thirty were fuel and hotel prices.
In the top forty were attributes like the health and education of the Mexican people, plus their welcoming nature towards foreign visitors. Cultural resources also scored highly. It was ranked 18th, in the 'Creative Industries Exports' (souvenirs to you and me) category; and 24th in the 'Number of International Fairs and Exhibitions'.
Due to the target audience of the report, many of the categories were concerned primarily with business interests. Mexico proved its willingness for external scrutiny, by ranking 12th in the category of 'providing monthly/quarterly T&T data' and 15th in the competitiveness of the same data. It scored 22, 23 and 35 respectively, in the categories of 'prevalence of foreign ownership', 'openness of bilateral Air Service Agreements' and 'time required to start a business'. All very lovely enticements for the prospective investors.
In fairness, there was some criticism too. Safety and security both let Mexico down, but these are the very issues that the Mexican government are quick to address. Secretary Guevara stated, "We have made real and sustained progress in making Mexico safe and secure, and will continue to devote our resources to ensuring that it remains a top destination."
It isn't all talk. With bad newspaper headlines continuing to sully Mexico's reputation over its borders, this season has seen some of the highest levels of tourist security in Mexico's history. Spring Breakers, in Cancun, were met by 'tourism advisors' (ie semi-plain clothed members of Mexico's military), who guided them past the Timeshare touts, into the ranks of authorised, safe taxi firms. It is hard to miss the highly visible patrolling of crowded beaches. Cancun has always been safe, but now it looks safe too!
The full report may be downloaded from here (pdf). The Mexico specific pages can be downloaded here (pdf) - find Mexico in the list, under 'Country Profiles'.