While Drug Wars Rage, Hoteliers Keep Building in Mexico

Boca de Tomaltan, on Mexico's Pacific coast.
Beach at Boca de Tomaltan, on Mexico's Pacific coast.
When we went to Mexico last month, more than a few people voiced concerns about safety. Again and again, some Americans say they are worried about visiting a country ‘where there is so much drug war violence.’ The stats are scary—more than 40,000 deaths since the conflict began, yet in today’s WSJ there was a story about the thriving tourism and business climate that exists in Mexico in 2012. Our plane to Puerto Vallarta was full, and nobody we talked to was at all afraid to be flying there.

Business owners are savvy. They don’t let short-term problems stop their long term thinking. So that’s why so many hotel chains are building in Mexico. Intercontinental Hotels will launch 46 new hotels in Mexico by the end of 2014. Hilton now has 23 resorts there and plans a 35% expansion. Marriot has nine hotels that will open between now and 2016.

The influx of tourism is coming not only from the US (it’s the number one overseas destination for Americans) but from up-and-coming countries like Russia, China and Colombia. The article also stated that the visitors from these countries spend much more than Americans and stay three times as long….and that’s why Mexican’s tourism ministry is opening tourism promotion offices in Beijing, Seoul, Moscow and Brussels.

They have also simplified their visa process and are counseling hoteliers on what these new visitors like best: Chinese-archeology, Brazilians-shopping, Russians-bling.

While the gunshots keep on coming along the border, in parts of Sinaloa and other regions, overseas investments just keep flowing into Mexico–$18 billion in 2010 and much of this from the US.

Mexico’s just too great a country to let its tourism and business be controlled by the thugs fighting over their drug territories.