ATC120522: Report The International Study Tour to Mexico, dated 22 May 2012
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON TOURISM ON AN INTERNATIONAL STUDY TOUR TO MEXICO
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON TOURISM ON THE INTERNATIONAL STUDY TOUR TO MEXICO , DATED 22 MAY 2012
The Portfolio Committee on Tourism, having undertaken an international study tour to Mexico City from 21-28 January 2012, reports as follows:
In support of the national effort for development and improving the state of tourism in the country, the committee undertook an international study visit to Mexico City from 21-28 January 2012.
Tourism has been prioritized by the government since it is one of the economic sectors that contribute to the countrys gross domestic product (GDP), create employment and mitigate the impact of poverty. This is in line with the policy imperatives of the New Growth Path (NGP) and the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP 2). Sustainable and responsible tourism development has a triple effect in terms of promoting social, economic and environmental benefits.
Unlocking the potential of tourism is dependent on it receiving substantial financial and logistical support from government, private sector, communities and the labour sector. Research indicates that if such support is demonstrated tourism will be in a position to play its expected role in achieving the competitive edge needed by the economy.
Central to the committees mandate is to conduct oversight in an effort to extract optimum benefits for the country from the resources and capacities available to the three spheres of government. The Committee undertook an international study tour to Mexico to assess and evaluate the nature of tourism prospects for inclusive growth and the extent of government support. The Committee, before arrival outlined its particular interests which were communicated to the SA Mission in Mexico prior to the official visit for review, as well as to start communicating with the Mexican Tourism Ministry.
Following the visit, a report was prepared and is divided into three sections viz. Section A capture, reflect and critically analyse issues and development emanating from the visit regarding the state of tourism in Mexico . Section B of the report provides details on briefing sessions, site visits, and engagements with tourism stakeholders, while Section C reflects on observations, findings and recommendations.
2. SECTION A: Detailed Report
2.1 Objectives of the study tour
Given the fact that South Africa has a number of provinces which are mainly rural in nature and receive the least benefits from the tourism sector, the aim of the visit was to focus on:
v The alignment and integration of tourism development amongst the spheres of government.
v The level of stakeholder participation both in public and private sector and government support.
v The tourism sector contribution to development, growth and job creation.
v The nature of support for cultural and heritage tourism growth; and
v The support for sustainable livelihoods to small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), cooperatives and individuals.
2.2 Composition of the delegation
The delegation was comprised as follows:
Table 1: Members of the delegation
African National Congress
Mr. D.M Gumede (Leader of the delegation);
Ms. X.C Makasi;
Ms. J.M Maluleke
Mr. L.P Khoarai;
Mr. G.R Krumbock
Congress of the People
Ms. M.A Njobe
Inkatha Freedom Party
Ms. C.N Zikalala
Support staff :
Mr. Jerry Boltina, Committee Secretary
Ms. Joyce Ntuli, Committee Researcher
2.3 The study tour process
Upon the receipt of the confirmation from SECTUR (Mexican Tourism Ministry) that delegated Mr Sergio Gomez, Secretary in the Political Section the responsibility to liaise with SECTUR and accompany and assist the committee throughout the visit. The South African Embassy was represented by Mr Martin Malan, Mexico City , Counsellor and Mr Guillermo Prior, the Mission s translator. The programme was designed such that the committee participated in different engagements included briefing sessions, stakeholder engagements and site visits from 24 th to 27 th January 2012.
2.4 Briefing sessions, stakeholder engagement and site visits
The process followed during the study tour visit in Mexico City included the briefing sessions, stakeholder engagements and site visits.
2.4.1 Site visit to Valle de Bravo ( Magical Town )
Upon arrival the committee was scheduled to attend a briefing session at SECTUR but due to a flight delay the committee visited Valle de Bravo, declared Magical Town and a Municipality in the State of Mexico , where some tourism marketing programmes were implemented by the Federal and Local Tourist Ministry.
The Magical Villages Programme (Programa Pueblos Magicos) is an initiative led by Mexicos Secretariat of Tourism (SECTUR), in conjunction with other federal and state agencies, to promote a series of towns around the country that offer visitors a magical experience because of their natural beauty, cultural riches, or historical relevance.
A Magical Village is a place with symbolism, legends, history, important events, day to day life in other word, magic in its social and cultural manifestations, with great opportunities for tourism. The programme was launched in 2001 and, by 2011, a total of 47 towns and villages in 28 different states had been awarded the title pueblo magico.
This town is the most popular and most visited within the State of Mexico , since it receives 3.5 million visitors per year, hence the importance of Valle de Bravo for the Governments State as this revenue benefits not only the Municipality itself but the whole valley. As a result of the popularity of the destination the area attracts both domestic and foreign visitors throughout the year.
The local Tourism Board received the delegation at el Santuario Resort where brief presentation was conducted by the local authorities and officials from the State of Mexico Government and the Valle de Bravo Municipality. During the presentation the concept of Magical Town was defined by the officials, as traditional towns in terms of architecture history and indigenous and colonial heritage, a brief description of the programmes that drove Valle de Bravo as the most popular destination was conducted by the representative of Valle de Bravos Mayor. After the presentation a question and answer session took place, where the committee had the chance to deepen its understanding the concept of the Magical Towns. The officials described in detail the development strategies, programmes and the implementation plan in the Valle de Bravo.
2.4.2 Briefing by Mexican Tourist Research Institute
The following day the committee attended the briefing sessions which were previously planned by officials from SECTUR. One of the presentations during the day covered the different aspects from the Mexican Tourist Research Institute, a structure within SECTUR which deals with academic research on the field of tourism. Some of the strategies of the Institute were outlined during the presentation namely, the engagement of Universities on the field of tourism, the certification of schools with tourism programmes, as well as the generation of knowledge and expertise in this area.
The contribution of this Institute is important for the sector since this structure compiles and administers all the information gathered by the local tourism offices across the country, as it improves strategies supported by a scientific approach, endorsed by the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT). As a result of this successful model some central American countries are about to emulate these programmes with the assistance of SECTUR. This will synchronise the Caribbean and Central American region tourism activities according to the methodology provided by the Mexican Tourist Research Institute. One of the biggest challenges for the Institute is to link the 644 Universities (out of this figure only 50 Universities across the country have signed a cooperation agreement with SECTUR) which currently conducts tourism programmes along with productive companies such as Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants. The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) has designated Mexico as the Research Centre for the Americas countries in the October 2002 summit.
2.4.3 Visit to the Archaeololgical Site of Teotihuacan :
The committee had an opportunity to visit the archaeological site of Teotihuacan . Teotihuacan an ancient worship place and is said to be the most visited site in the western world. The delegation was hosted by Mr Ernesto Cruz Pavia, Director of Liaison with the Tourism Ministry, on behalf of the government of the State of Mexico . He provided the delegation with an overview of the tourism management area for which he is responsible, namely seven municipal districts of which one covers the site of Teotihuacan .
The Mexico City is popular with tourists as an ancient Meso-American city. It is the departure point for visits to ancient city of Teotihuacan , famous for the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. There are other human-made tourist zones, such as the La Zona Rosa or Shopping District. The city is also home to the Plaza, built on the site of Montezumas palace and the huge Metropolitan Cathedra, the largest in the Western Hemisphere, built over the even greater Temple of Teocalli .
2.4.4 National Trust Fund for Tourism Development (FONATUR)
The committee had an opportunity to learn about the promotion and development plans from National Fund for Tourism aim to develop planned tourist spots across the country by means of Federal, State and local funding together with the private sector. Private sector is invited to participate in the development of the site in order to raise the budget to start the construction and planning of a project which embraces the participation of different parties aimed to develop potential projects as world class destinations. The clearest example of these actions is Cancun .
It is said that 35 years ago, Cancun was only a beach and a jungle and within 35 years of planning and development Cancun is now well known worldwide. It is one of the most popular destinations around the world. Los Cabos in the Baja California Peninsula is also another example of FONATURs success. The development of this destination dates only 20 years ago and it was planned to receive the American and Canadian baby boomers who are about to retire and looking forward to buy properties in Baja especially in Los Cabos area.
2.4.5 Meeting with the Minister of Tourism
The committee had an opportunity to interact with the Minister of Tourism, Ms Gloria Guevara Manzo who came to greet the committee and to strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation between Mexico and South Africa . Minister Guevara stressed that Mexico s Tourist sector is a very large industry. Mexico is the number one destination for foreign tourists within the North American region and number two destination in the Americas , ranking worldwide in the tenth place of the international tourist arrivals, with more than 22.6 million visitors in 2009 while US dollar travel spending by all visitors rose by 3.4 percent to US$13.3 billion. More significantly, World Tourism Organisation research shows that the countrys Travel & Tourism Economy increased its contribution to 13.2 percent of Mexico s GDP, growing by 3.8%. The Minister also shared with the delegation a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) proposed text to be signed by the Mexican and South African Government in the field of tourist cooperation.
The objective of the Memorandum of Understanding is the development and strengthening of the relations and cooperation between South Africa and Mexico in the field of tourism based on equal rights, mutual benefit and in accordance with respective national legislation and the international commitments undertaken by the two countries.
For the achievement of the above objective, the two countries will develop tourism promotion initiatives to increase bilateral tourism flows, with emphasis on luxury travel, adventure and nature tourism, sports tourism, sun and beach tourism, cultural tourism and tourism for groups.
To promote the image of their countries, participating in seminars, conferences, exhibitions, symposia and conferences related to tourism and tourism related issues, and any other matter that presents an opportunity for tourism development in our respective countries.
To encourage and support the exchange of experiences, statistics, information materials and other information of mutual interest to their tourism sectors, including, but not limited to tourism resources and studies related to the sector; volume and characteristics of their potential tourism markets; and legislation for the regulation of tourism activities.
2.4.6 Briefing by the National Promotion Council (PRONATUR)
The officials made a presentation showing how the Brand Mexico evolved, together with some of the most recent promotion campaigns, the media selected to promote the brand abroad and the effectiveness of this publicity campaign. A series of videos were presented from the Mexico , the place you thought you knew campaign, which was released after the H1N1 outbreak in 2009 that hit Mexico s tourism industry in a very negative way. The tourist flows dropped by 80 percent during the crisis. This campaign was focused on the North American market mainly United States and Canada .
The goal of this campaign was to reposition the concept of Mexico in terms of security for their visitors creative spots were generated from the concept the place you thought you knew. This does not only promote those destinations with sun and beach but a totally different image of the country, by means of portraying Mexico as a cultural destination full of colonial cities, and especially the beach resorts. The nations temperate climate and unique culture is a fusion of the European (particularly Spanish) and the Meso-American also makes Mexico an attractive destination.
The use of social networks is also exploited by PRONATUR where foreign visitors mainly Americans tweeted on experiences in Mexico along with a picture with friends and family. The tweets are posted on billboard screens in cities of the US like Chicago and New York .
All this media resources derived from the current trends observed within the international tourism market. Today tourists are well informed, internet skilled and sensitive to safety and security. The general trend focuses on quick changing of necessities and requirements, such as the demand of personalised service a quality value relation which encourages a unique travel adventure. Mexico is striving to grow and develop the tourism industry to be ranked as the 5 th tourist destination worldwide by 2018.
3. SECTION B: Analytical Report
Given the nature of the difficulties faced by the South African tourism industry the focus of the visit was to gain and compare available knowledge and draw lessons of experience to boost the local industry. This report attempts to capture, reflect and critically analyse issues and developments emanating from the visit to the aforementioned country regarding the state of tourism in Mexico , intergovernmental relations, good governance, rural tourism development and stakeholder engagement. The report discusses comprehensively all these issues in order to make suggestions and recommendations. This report contains detailed issues and knowledge acquired during the Committees visits to Mexico .
3.1 Interaction with the tourism authorities
During the study tour the Committee received presentations from the different sections that make up the tourism industry of México and México City specifically and the presentations were aligned to the objectives of the committee with the following topics covered;
· Contributing to the improvement of tourism competitiveness through knowledge;
· The generation of basic information of tourism and its use in tourism planning;
· Advising and guiding Mexico s small and medium tourism enterprises a strategy for competitiveness and quality;
· Tourism product development;
· Tourism promotion of Mexico globally;
· Tourism planning and development.
The above mentioned topics gave a broader understanding of the success of the Tourism Industry, its role in the economy of the country currently and future projections. Tourism in Mexico is highly recognised and more effort has been invested in order to maximise the potential held by the sector particularly in addressing the socio - economic challenges facing the country, such as unemployment and so forth. The next section will analyse the topics which were covered during the visit.
3.2 Contributing to the improvement of tourism competitiveness through knowledge
The Tourism Ministry has a division that deals specifically with coordination of research programmes - this division also measures the efficiency of the sectors marketing campaigns, and publications. The division that deals with this important information is called CESTUR (Centro de Estudios Superiores en Turismo)  , since its establishment in 1985, it has gone a long way in the generation of sector specific knowledge through collaborations with state universities. This relationship that exists between CESTUR and institutions of higher learning has been a point of contention in South Africa, whereby such relations still need to be built and strengthened in order to ensure growth of knowledge in the sector and furthermore to ensure that skills produced by institutions of higher learning meet the market demand for such skills. The other interesting point is the role of the private sectors contribution towards research that is deemed beneficial to the industry and finally the role played by the Tourism Ministry in introducing tourism courses at institutions of higher learning. The process entails that the Ministry of Education discusses the said proposal with the Ministry of Tourism which gives permission. This exercise ensures that the proposed curriculum meets the industry needs.
3.3 The generation of basic information of tourism and its use in tourism planning
The monitoring of and generation of basic tourism information is done through DataTur (a section in the Ministry responsible for monitoring tourist destinations). Information collected by DataTur includes (international tourist income, average expenses, length of stay and profile of visitors). This information is collected through the assistance of tourism stakeholders such as hotels, while other sources of information include economic sensors (for example the Census: conducted every 5 years, the Ministry of Transport, Airport Services and the Immigration Institute, the Mexico Tourism Satellite Account, urban questionnaires and finally, Mexicos Central Banks questionnaire). The Tourism Satellite Account in Mexico is at par with the countrys tourism development and it currently takes them about 3 months to process information and thus use it productively. This information greatly assists in comparing successful regions in the country and regions which are less successful thus further assists in tourism planning.
Some of the challenges that confront the tourism industry in South Africa include uneven distribution of tourism activities and benefits. A better geographic spread of tourism activities would positively aid rural development and job creation in the country. It would therefore be important for the Portfolio committee to interact with the Department of Tourism with a view to understanding these challenges in order to produce credible information within timeframes that would be useful for future planning in our own regions. This will promote the competitiveness of in attracting tourists into the country and substantially growing domestic tourism.
3.4 Advising and guiding Mexico s touristic small and medium enterprises - a strategy for competitiveness and quality
Although there was a lack of emphasis on financial support for small businesses, the Ministry was able to highlight two distinctive programmes which were able to ensure sustainability of small businesses in the industry as well as ensuring that some of these businesses increase their profit bases. These programmes are the M - Award Modernisation Programme and the H - Certificate Programme. The M Award Programme is a quality management system that aims to encourage high quality business standards. It does not only increase the competitiveness of small businesses but immensely contributes to the competitiveness of the destination, thus leading to better tourist satisfaction, a higher growth rate; profitability and ultimately better living conditions for communities. On the other hand the H- Award promotes a culture of quality hygienic management of food and drinks in tourism businesses. This award is granted by the Ministry of Tourism and endorsed by the Ministry of Public Health. Both these awards give Mexico s tourism industry and small businesses a competitive advantage locally and world wide. These programmes could be beneficial to small businesses in South Africa as they promote service excellence.
3.5 Tourism product development
The product development process in Mexico is quite extensive and the whole process is handled by the National Tourism Board. Soft and hard infrastructure, concept and content development and target market identification are three steps that go hand in hand with service attractions and an activities inventory. In the completion of these three steps the following steps are awareness training and professionalization and finally the marketing and promotion of product. In many instances in South Africa , the situation is that even prior to conducting an inventory on the destination, the promotion of the area is already in place and this has resulted in many service providers falling through the cracks. The main reason for this is linked to poor bulk infrastructural services, inadequate local capacity and so forth. It is for this particular reason that products that are developed should first be catered for on all fronts in order to ensure their sustainability. A practical example would be the Taung Heritage site that is well promoted but still requires a lot of infrastructure (roads, service excellence in accommodation, facilities and other places of interest) to be in place before it becomes desirable to a broader group of tourists.
The other major product in Mexico is Meeting Incentives Conferences Events (MICE) as this product plays a huge role in terms of job creation and contribution to the GDP of the country.
3.6 Tourism Promotion of Mexico globally
Tourism Promotion in Mexico seems to be totally inclusive of all tourism offerings. It showcases the different cultures; extreme sports; diversity and heritage. This has been a serious challenge for South African Tourism (SAT) in the sense that they mostly only manage to promote major products like Cape Town, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, the Kruger National Park, and just a few liberation sites. More needs to be done. In many instances our diverse cultures are not showcased enough. The other interesting point is how the marketing budget is made up. In essence, the states allocation for marketing is that drawn from visitors and broadly, the Tourism Board matches every dollar the state contributes. Finally, the relationship between the media and the Ministry of Tourism is a healthy one and the Ministry also fosters good public relations in the sense that whatever transpires in the industry is shared with the media. In addition, there is always a response from the Ministry in the case of unfortunate incidents in the industry. In South Africa public relations remains a challenge due to a lack of prompt information dissemination thus providing space for speculation to supersede clear and accurate information from the Department of Tourism. It is for this reason that the Department of Tourism should work on improving media relations and dealing with bad publicity. The use of social media at this point in time is very crucial and has proven to be a very effective marketing tool for tourism. Thus it would also be interesting to see the progress made by South Africa in this regard.
3.7 Tourism planning and development
The section that is responsible for planning and development has produced the most amazing work and has to a great extent put Mexico on the world map. This section is called ( Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Turismo)  FONATUR. FONATUR transformed what was formerly known as a fishermans island to what is now known as Cancun . This transformation began about 40 years back and the return in inve stment has been overwhelming. The modus of operandi by FONATUR is that it scouts for places to develop; they then ensure that basic service infrastructure and where necessary bulk infrastructure, such as airports, is developed. The next step is to get investors to invest and voila, a tourist destination. The planning and development process is indeed tedious, but with the working intergovernmental relations that Mexico fosters, it is well managed. This kind of planning has the potential to yield positive results for projects under the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) as currently some of the projects funded are not even accessible due to lack of service infrastructure. This indirectly means that some investments made by the Department of Tourism is bound not to yield positive results.
3.8 Role of Parliament
· Parliament needs to continuously engage with the Department of Tourism on the protection and conservation of significant tourism areas;
· Parliament needs to have an ongoing review and dialogue with key stakeholders about creating a business environment that encourages entrepreneurship. In addition, Parliament should also engage the Department of Tourism in fostering some of the small business programmes in Mexico that have proven to be successful.
· Parliament needs to continuously engage the Department of Tourism on the importance of intergovernmental relations.
· There is a need for Parliament to advocate for the review of funding and support mechanisms to SMMEs, as current mechanisms do not accommodate SMMEs in the tourism sector. Here, again, the Tourism Committee could hold the Department to account on this matter when it makes presentations to Parliament.
· Parliament needs to find a way of pioneering crosscutting issues in the tourism sector. In this regard, the Tourism Committee could hold joint meetings on matters of common interest with other committees, in order to promote the growth and development of the tourism sector.
· Parliament needs to have a constant dialogue with industry and communities on issues of tourism, for the purpose of contributing to tourism growth and rural development. The Tourism Committee could contribute towards this by holding parliamentary hearings on these matters and continuing to engage with various stakeholders on knowledge gained from study tours such as these.
· Parliament needs to engage the Department on issues of collaboration with institutions of higher learning and also playing an active role in the curriculum produced for tourism.
· Parliament needs to play an active role in stakeholder forums of the sector. In addition, Parliament also needs to engage with the Department in order that alerts for specific tourism events may be received, as in many instances Parliament is not aware of developments that occur in the sector.
4. SECTION C: Observations, Findings and Recommendations
The Committee made the following observations during the study tour:
4.1.1 The Mexican Central government gives leadership to other government spheres and stakeholders and provides its plans to them based on thorough research and knowledge gathering.
4.1.2 Stakeholder relations and inclusive decision making where public, private and people partnerships work together, from conception of projects until their completion and share contributions to resources and capacities.
4.1.3 The type of tourist keeps changing, but the tourist typically knows what they want and is internet skilled. Tourists that have high bargaining power and brand loyalty is extremely low.
4.1.4 Tourists are highly sensitive to safety and security.
4.1.5 Tourists see quality and opportunity conditions, and thus have quick changing needs, and always need personalized service.
4.1.6 Price is still a significant factor in the tourism sector.
4.1.7 According to information presented, Chinese and Russians spend about $1000 per day whereas Americans and Spanish tourists spend about $120 per day.
4.1.8 The global share of the American tourists is growing compared to other destinations.
4.1.9 Mexico uses authentic travel experiences like the Taxi project with hidden cameras, that captures the experience of the tourist through interviews with people that have experienced their destinations and with real stories and for American audiences they use celebrities to tell their stories.
4.1.10 Mexico uses culture i.e. both colonial and indigenous as part of the tourist attractions to Mexico . These include infrastructure like museums, music, food and art. When dealing with communities, due consideration is given to project sustainability. Cost-effective communication is undertaken in a manner that shows a synergy between tourism and the way of life of that community. Furthermore they emphasize capacity building of the community and respect for community traditions.
4.1.11 Promotion of the destination: " Mexico , the place you thought you knew."
They promote the country using this pre-emptive slogan and treat different destinations as unique experiences and places. The attempt is to address real people, in that:
v Mexico has a strategy for commercialization of heritage and culture in rural areas to empower women who are left to struggle while men and youth are away in the city or in the US where they are employed.
v Mexico has different Routes like the wine, cultural, religious, paleontology, adventure, gastronomy amongst others and each is unique;
v Market diversification to Brazil , China and Russia over and above the traditional markets of USA , Canada and Spain .
4.2.1 Alignment and integration to tourism product development .
4.2.1 The department develops concepts and content and identifies the target market.
4.2.2 An integrated approach which aligns all spheres of Government and works in partnership with the private sector and communities have resulted in the Ministry initiating and promoting the development of some 60 small rural towns known as Pueblos Magico (Magical Towns) as a tourist destination. This has proved to be most successful.
4.2.3 The Department supports both soft and hard infrastructure.
4.2.4 Government assists in the development of Business Tourism through programs like meetings, incentives, conferences & events (MICE) and as a result one out of five tourists fall under this program. More than 197, 000 meetings were held in 2010.
4.2.5 It also supports specialized tourism by providing expert advice on cruise and wedding tourism etc.
4.2.6 It further works closely with National Trust Fund for Tourism Development (FANATOR) in tourism development which is an institution that specializes in identifying land to be purchase for tourism development and it also provides expert advice on tourism development.
4.3 Stakeholder participation. These are provided by:-
4.3.1 Academic institutions and other research organizations.
4.3.2 Three spheres of government that plan and act together with communities.
4.3.4 Institutions specializing in tourism development, like FONATUR which assists in resource and capacity development in tourism.
4.3.5 Government, Local government and the private sector who share financial responsibility for the promotion tourism.
4.4 Tourism sector contributions to development, growth and job creation
4.4.1 Contributes 9% of GDP and employs 2.5 million people directly. It has 43 000 economic business units and is mainly constituted by micro and small businesses which form 80 percent of the industry.
4.4.2 Provides knowledge and research generated for competitiveness and decision making under the leadership of CESTUR.
4.4.3 Disseminates practical knowledge through CESTUR to tourism agents in Mexico .
4.4.5 Transfers knowledge and research to other levels of government.
4.4.6 Provides quality control, Hygiene certification and Modernization programs as well as incentives.
4.4.7 Encouraging people to tour Mexico in order to boost domestic and international tourism.
4.4.8 Providing statistics and monitors performance. This is done in different ways e.g. directly from hotels, air transportation, restaurants, travel agents and international information services among others, through internet bookings and surveys at points of entry and departure.
4.4.9 Preparing a Mexico Tourist Atlas for mapping attractions.
4.4.10 Tour guide training.
4.4.11 Public Relations that need immediate response when anything happens to a tourist and has a high media profile. The belief is that if one does not put positive news, the void is closed by negative news. They have undertaken more than 300 interviews over the last year and this has resulted in a change of public perceptions.
4.4.12 Mexico uses celebrities as advocates of tourism particularly for the US market which tend to believe in celebrities.
4.5 Support for heritage and cultural tourism
4.5.1 Archeological tourism has a significant presence with 31 World Heritage sites declared by the World Heritage Organisation.
4.5.2 Promotion of intangible cultural tourism like cuisine, music and other expressions of culture.
4.5.3 Extended opening hours for museums and historical centers
4.5.4 Promoted visiting by local communities ranging from schools to individual tourists.
4.5.5 The country has developed different nature routes, for example, the Flamingo bird watching route and it further uses its Natural Heritage for Adventure Tourism which is mainly located in rain forests where tourists are exposed to the indigenous way of life, and other natural heritages.
4.5.6 A Gastronomy Route where Mexican cuisine has been assigned as World Heritage.
4.6 Support for sustainable livelihoods and SMME's
4.6.1 Institutions like FONATUR with multi-skilled expertise provides support which minimizes risk facilitate funding and further support for entrepreneurs the provision of feasibility studies and other sector expertise. The consultancy phase is free.
4.6.2 Mexico advertises destinations as part of their routes.
4.7 Other findings
4.7.1 Mexico has a number of institutions that support promotion and marketing of the different unique destinations it has as a country like the Mexican Tourism Board.
4.7.2 Mexico is ranked 5th in World biodiversity and it promotes this as part of the natural heritage that attracts tourists.
4.7.3 The country has successful funding models from different stakeholders; and is developing some destinations as part of their wedding market.
5.1 Target areas for tourism development can be significantly improved with the support of all relevant stakeholders including local government. Local government needs to integrate the National Tourism Plan into their Integrated Development Plans.
5.2 There is a need for South Africa to consider having an institution like FONATUR to develop attractions and resorts in the country for the empowerment of the historically disadvantaged and for the development of rural communities.
5.3 The draft Tourism Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the government of the Republic of South Africa and the Federal Republic of Mexico to be finalized in order to advance the interests of both countries.
5.4 The Department of Tourism should play an active part in promoting the image of our country as a destination and respond timorously when there are issues that threaten this image.
5.5 People with the necessary competence in relationship building and public relations should be employed at senior positions in the Department.
South Africa can do more with the available resources and capacities in government especially around relationship building and partnerships. Despite the fact that Mexico is a Federal State , the alignment of the three spheres of government is much better than that of South Africa mainly because Mexico has an inclusive approach to tourism projects.
The underlying principles observed in the tourism industry in Mexico are dedication, national pride and the preservation of their natural heritage. These are the areas where SECTUR was able to make progress by insuring that through a process of ownership or buy in sustainable activities in tourism can be maintained.
The other important aspect of Mexican tourism that seems to be working well is that of intergovernmental relations where different departments are able to deliver on their expectations.
Models that are fostered by FONATUR need to be implemented fully in order for South Africa to see positive returns on investments in infrastructural programmes delivered by, for example, the EPWP programme.
South Africa also needs to change its approach in terms of marketing the country to the world by adopting a more targeted local approach.
These changes need to be made in order to grow international, but particularly domestic tourism, as it forms the backbone of tourism in most countries and as was proved during periods such as the current economic global crisis.
Finally, it was very interesting to learn that South Africa s grading programme is a programme that reassures tourists that they are receiving good value for money.
More significantly, the World Tourism Organization research shows that the countrys Travel & Tourism Economy increased its contribution to 13.2% of Mexico s GDP, growing by 3.8 percent.
The committee was impressed by the Mexican government approach towards rural development in that the government has a project plan approach to rural development that is targeted by both the private and public stakeholders.
Report to be considered.
 Centre for A dvanced Studies in Tourism .
 National Trust Fund for Tourism Development
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