Mexico Wants Tourists to Cover More Ground

Alina Khorosheva, 16.04.2014 12:21
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It has been over a year since Ruben Beltran received his credentials as Mexico’s ambassador to Russia. In this interview TRN magazine asked the ambassador about the progress that was the embassy has made during the past year in regard to consolidating tourism ties between the two countries, and about what there was still left to do…

- Mr. Ambassador, what are the results you are especially proud of?

- We have managed to do a lot during the past year, and I see the relations between our countries grow stronger by the month. As for tourism, we are observing a fast-growing increase in the tourist flow from Russia, which only adds to our optimistic forecasts.

Let me share a bit of statistical information. In 2012 Mexico was visited by 77 thousand Russian tourists, and in 2013 – by 107 thousand. We expect as many as 135 thousand people to visit the country in 2014. Also, as regards the tourist flow to the country, Russia moved from the 23rd spot in 2006 to the 13th spot last year. As you can see, the growth is quite significant! We expect the tourist flow from Russia to reach 500 thousand tourists by 2018, which in our opinion is a feasible figure.

Most visitors come to Mexico from the US, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Columbia, and Italy. It is also worthy of note that in 2013 Mexico was visited by a total number of 24 million foreign tourists, which is 1.4% more than in 2012.

- What are your impressions of Russia and its residents so far? Have you taken to any particular spots in the capital during the past year? Have you visited any other cities?

- Russia is a stunning country! I’ve had the opportunity to visit a number of its cities. I have virtually traveled the whole way from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, visiting Baikal, Irkutsk, Kostroma, Nizhny Novgorod, Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg.

Russia is a multifaceted country, and it is hard to single out only one city that I am most fond of. For instance, in Chelyabinsk I enjoyed the nature, although we came there to observe industrial production. I also take special delight in the Russian cuisine.

As for the capital, Moscow is a huge megalopolis, replete with entertainments of any kind. I particularly like to stroll along the city streets when the weather is sunny – along the Arbat, Tverskaya, Prechistenka, Patriarch Ponds, and it is always good to visit Tretyakov Gallery or classical music concerts, including the ones held in Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. Just recently I’ve been to the ballet ‘The Tragedy of Othello’ in Vakhtangov Theater. I have also received an invitation to the opening of the racing season, which will take place in Central Moscow Hippodrome.

I just like being among Russians. I think they are very generous, earnest and forthcoming people…

- Have the embassy been able to establish strong ties with the Russian travel companies?

- I think that Russian travel business is densely populated by professionals. At the moment our main task is to use these professionals’ help to spread the tourist flow across Mexico, since currently the majority of Russians only come to Cancun. But Cancun is not just a wonderful resort; it is also a great hub from where it is possible to go traveling to any corner of Mexico. There are more than 20 daily flights from Cancun’s airport to the country’s regions. Mexico’s history spans more than 3 million years, so there are definitely things worth seeing throughout the whole country.

- When will Mexico’s tourism office open in Russia?

- I cannot tell you a certain date, but it will be opened this year. It will serve three main functions: first – PR, promotion of Mexican tourism in Russia, informing Russians about the country’s travel capabilities by various means.

Second – interaction with the travel business: airlines, tour operators, travel agencies. And third – hosting themed events and participating in the industry’s exhibitions.

The office will also be tasked with strengthening ties with Russian cities. The office’s staff will consist of 3 employees.

- Have there recently been any negotiations on easing the visa regime?

- Yes, these negotiations are being held right now, but it will take time to get the procedure of easing the regime off the ground. We are currently working on that. It is more important, however, to stress something else – today Russians can easily get an electronic Mexican visa. There are little to no problems, and the refusal rate is measly. Travel business does not always hinge on visa technicalities. Case in point – 1 million 200 thousand Russians visited Spain last year, despite the fact that a visa is required to visit the country…

- Are there any developments as regards increasing the frequency of flights between our countries? Will new destinations be added any time soon?

We are currently negotiating these matters. I think that we might expect positive results on that front.

- A year ago 10 new travel itineraries across Mexico were presented by the embassy. Are they enjoying good demand among Russians?

- Yes, they are quite popular. Especially sought-after are ‘Wine-making Culture and Underwater World’, ‘Magic of Nature’s Traditions’, ‘Thousand-year History of the Tarahumara People’, ‘Magical Cities of Mexico’. However, it will take some time to spread the word about these itineraries among the maximum number of the Russian people.

Our plans for promoting the country’s tourism products on the global market go beyond focusing on the beach holidays, which enjoy good demand as it is. Namely, we will also be promoting cultural, ecological, and health tourism in Mexico, as well as premium-class trips and Mexico City as a separate destination. By the way, as of late the inbound Russian tourist flow to this beautiful city has increased a lot. We have big hopes for these itineraries. Also, one trend has Russians visiting places where they have never been before, including Los Cabos.

- What about plans for the year?

- This year we are focusing on the same projects, plus, as I have already mentioned – on spreading the tourist flow.

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