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Thursday, September 20, 2012 11:59:43 AM (IST)  

Mexico Confident Tourism Sector will Grow

Paris, Sep 20 (IANS/EFE): Mexico's comprehensive tourism plan has laid the basis for spurring the growth of a sector that is increasing by about 4 percent each year, the country's tourism secretary said here Wednesday.

"We already have the bases our country needed to detonate growth" in the sector, Gloria Guevara told EFE at the end of a brief visit to Europe that took her to Amsterdam and Paris, the scene this week of the Top Resa tourism trade show.

Guevara had the chance to meet French officials as well as with tour operators and airlines like Air France, which will once again open up the Paris-Cancun route next year and is planning to increase the frequency of flights between France and Mexico, she said.

The diplomatic controversy France and Mexico experienced last year has been left behind, when the case of a Frenchwoman sentenced to 60 years in a Mexican prison led to the suspension of the Year of Mexico activities in France.

"Unfortunately, the Year of Mexico could not be held in France, but we're continuing independently with promotional activities", such as the Mexico Today campaign, Guevara said.

The result has been an annual increase of 10 percent in the number of French citizens who visited Mexico in 2011, which can be added to "an increase of 28.3 percent in the number of reservations in France for Mexico with an eye toward next winter", she said.

The aim of Mexico, currently 10th worldwide in the number of foreign visitors, by 2018 is to work its way into the top five.

The problems of public safety that affect some places in Mexico are not hindering the flow of visitors, Guevara added, since the tourist areas are not among the hotspots for violence.

"Mexico has a challenge. We know that it's an important challenge, just like many other nations, but also it's a country that is very large," she said, noting that the crime problem is concentrated in just 80 of the country's almost 2,500 municipalities.

The tourism sector represents about 9 percent of Mexico's gross domestic product and generates some 7.5 million jobs. International arrivals increased 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

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