“New Air Connections Bring Mexico Closer to Southeast Asia”

Interview with Teresa Solis Trejo, Undersecretary of Planning and Tourism Policy, State Secretary for Tourism of Mexico and Guillermo Eguiarte, Director Asia Pacific Mexico Tourism.

The hosting of WTTC Global Summit in Bangkok was an opportunity for Mexican tourism authorities to present their strategy to bring more travellers from Southeast Asia into their country. An agreement was signed during the Summit hosting between Mrs. Teresa Solis Trejo, Undersecretary of Planning and Tourism Policy at the State Secretary for Tourism Mexico and Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Thailand Minister of Tourism.

How many travellers from Asia Pacific do currently visit Mexico?

Guillermo Eguiarte- The total number of travellers from ASPAC – as defined by the UN- represent some 600,000 arrivals. However, if we consider only the Far East and Australia/New Zealand, we are around 350,000 arrivals in 2016. From that number, Japan dominates with almost 100,000 visitors, followed by Australia with 80,000 travellers and China with close to 78,000 visitors. China is our fastest growing market in Asia as we recorded a jump of over 40% in air arrivals from January to June 2016. Within ASEAN, the Philippines is our primary market with 11,000 travellers, due to the long historical relation with Mexico. And Thailand represents already some 2,500 travellers per year.

Why do you believe that Southeast Asian travellers would now go to Mexico, a rather far away destination from this part of the world?

Teresa Solis Trejo- There is an opportunity to seize and this is improved air connectivity. Never before is Mexico so easy to reach from ASEAN with competition offering cheaper fares to fly. In the past, there was only a unique flight from Asia to Mexico and that was a connection from Aeromexico linking Tokyo Narita to Mexico via Tijuana. With the introduction of a non stop flight in Boeing 787 from Tokyo to Mexico by Aeromexico, the opening of a non-stop flight in February by All Nippon Airways, followed in May by a three-times weekly frequency from Guangzhou to Mexico via Vancouver.

And finally, at the end of next month, our national carrier Aeromexico will offer four weekly frequencies from Mexico and Monterrey to Seoul, offering a new opportunity to reach Southeast Asia. Competition brings then more reasonable pricing with a return ticket already available from Southeast Asia from US$1,000.

Where do you see potential of growth by nationality?

Guillermo Eguiarte- We definitely look at the Chinese market in general, not only from Mainland China but also in countries where Chinese communities are important. But also the Philippines as we do have – as I said before- a strong historical connection. We also monitor closely Vietnam, which is turning into ASEAN fastest growing outbound market. Although the base is very low, arrivals from Vietnam to Mexico was up by 500% last year!

Which destinations and themes do you feel fitting well with Southeast Asian travellers’ inspirations?

Guillermo Eguiarte- We do not promote so much our Mexican beaches in Southeast Asia as they are plenty of superb beaches all across the region. Although we encourage people to spend a few days at a beach resort to relax after a discovery trip throughout our country. Our main focus is our Spanish-related heritage, our traditional festivals, our music -which is rather popular in Asia, especially mariachi- and of course food, from the Mexican traditional gastronomy to the discovery of our wines…

Teresa Solis Trejo- We know that Asian travellers will definitely come to Mexico City to visit the capital, shop and enjoy the urban life of our capital. We then want to promote neighbouring destinations from Mexico City, which can be done during a day trip. North of Mexico, we want to promote Queretaro, San Miguel Allende, Guanajuato; in the South, Puebla and Oaxaca which are all traditional cities with their old world, colourful atmosphere. We also think that the Yucatan Peninsula with Cancun and Merida is a perfect region to embrace Mexican diversity and culture.