MEXICO CITY- Mexico's Tourism Ministry is making varied plans to attract more Chinese tourists, its head told Xinhua in an interview on Tuesday.
The number of Chinese visitors to Mexico jumped from 17,200 in 2009 to 28,400 in 2010, up 67 percent, Gloria Guevara Manzo said.
With the Chinese tourists increasing, his ministry opened offices in Shanghai to promote tourism and assist tourist operators, Guevara said.
Guevara said she has visited China twice and has also met in London with Director of China's National Tourism Administration Shao Qiwei to discuss ways of promoting travel to Mexico. She said she also has close ties with the Chinese embassy in Mexico.
Mexico has improved visa procedures, which lasted a longer time before, she said. "Now, if they have a US visa they do not need a Mexican one, and if they do not have any of them, the Mexican embassy gives them one tourist visa to come to the country."
"More flights are needed and currently we are waiting for the offer made by Hainan Airlines Company Limited (HNA) to fly from Beijing to Mexico City," she said.
The only flight to China now is made by Aeromexico and goes from Mexico City to Tijuana and then Shanghai, so Mexico is seeking to increase the connectivity, she added.
Guevara went on to say that they are also talking with Cathay Pacific, which is interested in flying to Mexico through the United States.
Mexico not only offers Chinese tourists sunlight and beaches, but also culture, archeology, gastronomy and shopping tourism. During their visit they can learn and know a lot about the Mayan culture, Guevara said.
The minister said Chinese tourists in Mexico "are going to find a culture similar to theirs, which is very interesting and fascinating". They will find in Mexico "we do not only drink tequila, take a nap and ride donkeys as many foreigners think," she said.
Guevara said despite the violence in some parts of Mexico, tourism is not affected. "Less than 4 percent of the municipalities in Mexico have that problem and the rest of the country can be visited without problems. In 2010, some 22 million tourists visited Mexico without a problem." The government can guarantee the safety of the visitors, she said.
Guevara added that tourism prospects for 2011 are positive as foreign visitors are expected to increase by 15 percent compared with 2010.
By 2018, tourism will exceed remittances and oil to become the main income of Mexico, she said.