MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s tourism activity rose by 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to the same period in the prior year, thanks to growth in services and foreign tourist arrivals, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) said on Wednesday.
Spending by foreign and domestic tourists rose 1.7 percent in the October-December period, compared to the same quarter in 2017, the statistics agency said in a statement.
Domestic tourists’ spending rose 0.90 percent, while spending by foreign tourists rose 5 percent during the period, the INEGI said.
Services provided to domestic and foreign tourists, the biggest component of the tourism industry within the gross domestic product (GDP), rose 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter, compared to the same period in 2017, while the provision of goods grew 0.80 percent.
In 2017, Mexico became the No. 6 country in the world in terms of visitors, welcoming 39.3 million foreign tourists.
The tourism industry, moreover, generated a record $21 billion in revenues.
In 2018, according to preliminary figures, Mexico welcomed 41.7 million tourists and was bumped from sixth place in the rankings by Turkey.
The tourism industry accounts for 8.8 percent of Mexico’s GDP and employs 4.1 million people directly and 6.5 million others indirectly.
Mexico could finish 2019 with $23.26 billion in revenues generated from foreign tourists, the Tourism Secretariat said.
The new administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office on Dec. 1, hopes to give tourism in southern Mexico a boost with the construction of the Tren Maya railway project.
The railway will link the states of Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Campeche, Tabasco and Chiapas, which are home to important Mayan archaeological sites.
The administration also plans to turn the Santa Lucia military base into a civilian airport to ease congestion at the Mexico City international airport.