Mexico aims to become key tourist destination for Koreans

Mexico aims to become key tourist destination for Koreans

Despite the long distance, Mexico has become one of the most sought-after travel destinations for Koreans, a high-ranking Mexican official said Thursday.

The Mexican Tourism Board saw 15.3 percent increase in the number of Korean travelers to the Latin American country from 34,965 in 2011 to 40,303 this year. It attracted a record 23.4 million tourists from around the world in 2011, making it the 10th most visited country in the world.

“Korea is a strategic market for Mexico. As this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Mexico, we will continue to actively engage in activities to increase visitors to our country,” the Secretary of Tourism Gloria Guevara Manzo said at a Mexico tourism seminar held in Seoul.

“There is a lot of reason to visit Mexico. It’s not just food and shopping but also many other experiences,” Guevara Manzo said.

Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism Gloria Guevara Manzo speaks about the Mexican tourism at a Mexico Day event held in Seoul, Thursday. (Mexico Tourism Board)

As this year marks the end of the Mayan calendar, Mexico launched the “Mundo Maya 2012” to promote the cultural, historical and human heritage of the Mayans.

Contrary to what many people say is an apocalyptic reference to 2012 on the Mayan calendar, the calendar actually denotes a transition to a new era of prosperity and happiness, said Rodolfo Lopez Negrete Coppel, head of the Mexico Tourism Board at the seminar.

“The calendar of Maya is telling us that it’s actually good news. The news is that the new era that will begin as of Dec. 31 this year will be an era of full of prosperity, happiness, peace and economic growth,” said Lopez Negrete Coppel, who considers the Mayan world a way to make Mexico an iconic travel destination.

“This is the Mexican interpretation of the Mayan calendar.”

He said Mexico was a true cultural superpower with about 40,000 archeological sites. But only 200 are open to the public.

In order to improve access to the Mayan archeological sites to the public, the Mexican government selected two of the most popular archeological sites from five states and named them as Mexico’s 10 iconic archeological sites.

The five regions are Campeche, Chiapas, Tabasco, Quintana Roo and Yucatan ― home to six of Mexico’s 27 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Mexico has ambitiously made aggressive infrastructure investment over the last five years to further promote the tourism industry and for a goal of becoming one of the top five most visited countries in the world.

It has invested $70 billion into developing airports, railways and highways to make more destinations in the country accessible to visitors and local people as well.

The tourism office developed a travel program with Mexico’s land transportation company ADO to make sure visitors can have unlimited bus rides between those archeological sites.

“We have gained the respect of the world with our beautiful beaches, but we are also a very attractive cultural destination,” said Lopez Negrete Coppel.

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