Mexico eyes slice of Chinese high-spenders on US tours

August 19, 2015 13:15
Alicia Buenrostro Massieu says tourism is a government priority and is as important as foreign direct investment in addressing the huge trade deficit. Photo:HKEJ

Mexico is trying to encourage big-spending Chinese tourists to add Mexican cities to their United States itineraries.

The Mexican government is adding direct passenger flights, updating tourism facilities and ramping up promotion and marketing activities in Hong Kong and mainland China, according to Alicia Buenrostro Massieu, the Mexican consul general to Hong Kong and Macau.

Buenrostro Massieu was speaking after a trade event in Hong Kong on Monday.

More than 21 million Chinese visited the US in 2014, spending an average of US$10,800 each, official data shows.

The US began granting 10-year multi-entry visas to Chinese nationals in 2014.

Mexico does not require entry permits for Chinese visitors with valid US visas.

Buenrostro Massieu said she has been working to convert direct cargo flights between Hong Kong and Mexico City into passenger flights.

Direct freighter services to Mexico were launched by Cathay Pacific Airways in 2014.

“We are eager to have it,” she said, adding she expects direct passenger services in the medium term.

In June, China Radio International cited Julian Ventura Valero, the Mexican ambassador to China, as saying he hopes to see more direct flights by Chinese airlines.

Buenrostro Massieu said tourism is a government priority and is as important as foreign direct investment in addressing the huge trade deficit.

Mexico City is scheduled to open a new international airport in 2020.

Meanwhile, it has been upgrading tourism-related services -- from accommodation to food -- with emphasis on Chinese tourists.

Hotels that are popular with Chinese tourists such as the Peninsula, Shangri-La and Mandarin Oriental are likely to expand their presence in Mexico.

Buenrostro Massieu said she is working with operators of three to five-star hotels for potential investment.

Also, she said Mexico needs to overcome the language barrier with the Chinese who prefer to talk in their native tongue.

About 55,000 Chinese visited Mexico in 2014, up 25 percent year on year.

Buenrostro Massieu said many Mexican small and medium-sized companies in biotechnology and engineering, among other sectors, have been coming to Hong Kong as part of their global expansion.

Hong Kong's incubator program has been attracting Mexican startups, she said.

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EJ Insight reporter