Has the Trump administration affected outbound travel from Mexico?
It’s not news to say that tourism between Mexico and the United States is closely intertwined. According to data presented by SECTUR, Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism, in 2016 Mexico received 35 million international tourists, 9 percent more than in 2015. U.S. travelers made up 58 percent, a 12.2 percent increase over 2015. This growth may have to do with many factors, but the most important is the depreciation of the Mexican peso against the U.S. dollar. Traveling to Mexico has never been cheaper.
The Mexican tourist outbound market is also growing. According to IPK’s World Travel Monitor, Mexicans took 17.6 million international trips in 2014. In 2016 this number grew to 18.2 million according to data provided by Mexico’s Communications and Transportations Ministry. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that in 2015 18.37 million Mexicans visited the U.S., representing 23.8 percent of international arrivals. Mexican travelers spent the third most, after China and Canada, with $19.7 billion dollars in 2015, 5 percent more than in 2014, marking the sixth year of consecutive growth.
However, all seems to be changing in 2017. International travel to the U.S. dropped 6.5 percent in the 8 days following President Trump’s proposed travel ban over the same period in 2016, according to travel data company ForwardKeys. While travelers from the United States to Mexico continue to grow, the number of Mexican travelers to the U.S. has decreased according to Mexico’s SCT. Passengers from Mexico City to San Antonio declined by 34 percent in January and 37 percent in February, while traffic from Mexico City to Canadian destinations like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver grew 67 percent in January and 46 percent in February.
It’s not fair to say that these numbers reflect a direct reaction to Trump’s presidency. Factors like the depreciation of the Mexican peso and the elimination of the visa requirement for Mexicans traveling to Canada play a big role in the decisions of the Mexican traveler as well. However, it is important to note that while Mexicans are not traveling as frequently to the U.S., they are traveling. According to Mexico’s SCT, Mexicans increased their travels to Canada by 16 percent, Cuba by 56 percent, Costa Rica by 22 percent, Chile and Peru by 8 percent, Spain 11.5 percent, the UK 6.5 percent, and Asia 2.3 percent in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016.
Ana Armas, a travel agent from American Express, says that her clients have shown concern about traveling to the United States and simply don’t want to spend money in a country where they don’t feel welcome. “Clients that used to visit Miami, Austin or New York every year are now requesting different international destinations.
If traveling to Spain costs as much as traveling to Miami, with the current exchange rates, they would rather leave their money where they feel welcome and safe,” she said. While this news might not be good news to the U.S. travel industry, this is good news for other countries that have not promoted their destinations enough to the Mexican travel market. If there is a time to do so, it is now.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency member of Travel Consul