Facing drop in Mexican visitors, NYC renews partnership with Mexico City

New York has renewed a tourism partnership with Mexico City to “remind the Mexican people of the close alliances between New York and Mexico City,” said NYC & Company CEO Fred Dixon.
Dixon and Armando Lopez Cardenas, Mexico City’s minister of tourism, signed a one-year renewal of their partnership, which has been in place since 2013.
Dixon said New York City is the No. 1 destination for air travel out of Mexico. About 70% of the travelers that come to New York from Mexico visit for leisure purposes and they tend to be high spenders, he said.
“We wanted to take this moment to remind them that we want their business in New York, that they are welcome in New York and that it’s the same great destination that they always remembered,” he said.
Dixon said NYC & Company is projecting a drop in international visitors to New York City this year, especially from Mexico, which he attributed largely to the political climate under the Trump administration.
Last October, before the election, Dixon said he received a preliminary forecast of the upcoming year from Oxford Economics that projected New York City would be up 400,000 international visitors in 2017.
In February, after the first travel ban had been introduced, interest fell off. Oxford projected that international visitors to the U.S. would fall about 3% in 2017, and that international visitors to New York City would be down 2.1%.
Dixon called the drop “concerning.” While the macroeconomic situation — including a strong dollar, which Dixon said was accounted for in all forecasts — had stayed largely the same, the political climate in the U.S. had not.
“The thing that had changed was the geopolitical climate, the ‘America first’ rhetoric, the talk of the travel ban, the talk of extreme vetting [at borders],” he said, including increased screening of digital devices. “That is causing a lot of concern in the international travel community. It would be considered a very unwelcoming message for the world.”
The number of travelers from Mexico to New York is expected to be down about 6.7% in 2017, Dixon said, the largest drop in any international market.
“We are welcoming of all travelers for leisure and for business, so that’s why we’re here in Mexico City — we seized on the opportunity to do some work in this market, which is expected to be hit the worst,” he said.
NYC & Company started noticing a softening toward the end of 2016.
“I think it’s fairly easy to connect the dots between the rhetoric that was pretty widespread in the election of negativity about the Mexican people, the comments about Mexican immigration, the comments about the wall, the comments about crime coming into the U.S. from Mexico,” he said. “I mean, those hit pretty hard here in Mexico, and I think that began to soften the market in the fall.”
Dixon said, “It’s pretty important for us to maintain this market and do all we can to counter the rhetoric and to remind them that we want their business in New York.”
The one-year agreement between Mexico City and NYC & Company includes sharing marketing assets — promotions for New York City tourism will appear in Mexico City and vice versa.
Additionally, NYC & Company this month is launching a marketing campaign with Best Day Travel and media partner JC Decaux. That campaign will include advertisements with “New York City — Welcoming the World” messaging, as well as discounted air and hotel packages and travel incentives from May 1 to July 31. The $900,000 campaign will run in Mexico from April 25 to July 3.

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