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CEO Mission to Mexico Energizes Mexican Media, Travel Trade

By Jennifer Montero 03/23/2022

On March 15, a delegation of 14 California DMOs joined Visit California executives and board officers to personally welcome back Mexican travelers and tourism businesses. The group, representing destinations and businesses from Northern, Central and Southern California delivered a unified front to Mexican media and travel executives. The mission represented Visit California’s largest delegation to an international destination ever and the first time two board officers joined a mission.

Mexico is a clear-cut top priority market in 2022. It is California’s largest international market by volume, and Mexicans have traveled to California by air throughout the pandemic. This year, 669,000 air travelers are forecasted for 2022, representing $985 million in travel spending — a 14% increase over 2019. Further, there has been a rapid uptick in rehiring in Mexico this year, which should further boost travel spending. Competition for Mexican visitors is fierce, but California is well positioned in particular for three of their biggest demographics: family, luxury and culinary travelers. 

President & CEO Caroline Beteta delivers open for business message to Mexican media
President & CEO Caroline Beteta delivers open for business message to Mexican media.

The mission kicked off with a press conference. President and CEO Caroline Beteta told a standing room only audience of trade and consumer journalists that California’s 20,000 tourism businesses are open for business, and that rolling out the red carpet for Mexican travelers is the top priority Visit California and California destinations. She pointed to the lack of airline restrictions during the pandemic, airlift that has already surpassed pre-pandemic levels and California’s longstanding cultural and economic ties to Mexico.   

Standing room only at Visit California Mexico CEO Mission press conference
Standing room only at Visit California Mexico CEO Mission press conference.

She also highlighted the reopening of the California Welcome Center at the Cross Border Xpress, which offers a white-glove reception to those who fly into Tijuana. The CBX will be opening an expanded facility in 2023 to accommodate additional airlift and increased traffic through CBX due to the lower cost of access via domestic flights within Mexico.

Paola Rojas embraces San Diego Tourism Authority President & CEO Julie Coker
Paola Rojas shares a California moment with San Diego Tourism Authority President and CEO Julie Coker and Visit Oakland President and CEO Peter Gamez. 

The conference closed with Televisa anchor and media personality Paola Rojas taking the podium to discuss her partnership with Visit California and first trip back to the Bay Area and Wine Country. Rojas is one of several high-profile journalists and influencers tapped to create desire for California travel.

The California destination CEOs then broke off for individual media appointments with a mix of business- and consumer-facing media representing the full spectrum of lifestyle, news and trade audiences. Press included Reforma, Televisa, Forbes, Robb Report, Food & Wine, the Aeroméxico in-flight magazine, National Geographic and Travel Pulse.

After, the delegation joined a CEO roundtable with 18 executives representing leading Mexican travel and tourism entities tourism to share market intelligence and lay the foundation for future collaboration on both the statewide and destination-specific level. They discussed a variety of opportunities including airlift development, sustainability, the professional meetings and events market, and the Cross Border Xpress (CBX). Timely topics included rising jet fuel cost and the Federal Aviation Administration lowering Mexican airlines status to “tier 2,” which throws up additional red tape when adding air routes from Mexico.

Key executives from Mexico's tourism industry join California delegates for a roundtable discussion of business opportunities.
Key executives from Mexico's tourism industry join California delegates for a roundtable discussion of business opportunities. 

The mission concluded with a luxury market conversation with Mexican tourism leaders representing three important perspectives, which yielded critical market insights. Leading this free-flowing exchange of ideas were Jose Luis Castro, CEO of the leading business travel management company in Latin America; Teresa Solis, director for tourism and regional development for Deloitte and former federal Mexico deputy minister for tourism; and Max Villegas, a hotel owner, businessman and media personality. 

Importantly, Mexico's emerging luxury travel market views California as a true luxury destination. The Mexican luxury traveler will take more frequent, shorter trips, which adds to California’s appeal, given that it’s close and offers a wide variety of experiences. Culinary, outdoors, and arts and culture are key motivators.

However, Mexican luxury travelers have high expectations: Because they’re giving up travel to other popular luxury choices such as the Middle East, which offer a very high level of service, they expect hyper-personalization and exclusive, under-the-radar experiences.

Visit California will continue to update the industry on new Mexico market initiatives in this fast-recovering market.


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