Advantage: Mexico

Teatro Experimental. Querétaro

What makes Mexico your best bet for meetings? The answer can be found in the Mexico Tourism Board’s renewed focus on the meetings industry, reinforced by its many competitive advantages and enthusiastic embrace of innovation and market trends.

Last August, Mexico’s 23rd National Meetings Industry Congress coincided for the first time with PCMA’s North American Advisory Summit (NAAS) in Ixtapa, offering Lourdes Berho, CEO of the Mexico Tourism Board (MTB), the perfect forum to announce a global initiative to position Mexico back at the top of the convention industry not only in Latin America, but also at or near the top of the list for 2020 (see MTB: Your Partner in Business for more details). In 2014, the meetings industry accounted for 1.5% of the country’s GDP—based off of stats from over 266,000 meetings held that year—with healthy projections of growth driven by an increase in the number of events in key industries, prompting state authorities nationwide to develop strategies to raise competitiveness and attract a bigger share of events.

Mexico’s success in this particularly dynamic market is driven by several advantages, beginning with an economically competitive meetings tourism offer, which can translate into a 10 to 50% savings for planners on food and beverage, labor and more. This factor is made even more attractive by the Value Added Tax (VAT) exemption on events that eliminates the 16% tax applied country-wide on lodging and transfers, as well as related event services such as set-up, registration, masters of ceremonies and translators, hosts, audiovisual equipment, decorations, security, cleaning and food and beverage by the hotel or the convention center as part of the event. Another nice break: conventions, seminars and meetings held in Mexico are fully deductible for U.S. Federal income tax purposes.

The country’s strategic location for North and South American markets and easy global access from the state-of-the art airports are also keys to its success. As recently as this year, in fact, airline partners announced the addition of more than 1 million new seats on international direct flights to Mexico from more than 20 countries (see Getting There From Here).

The country’s highly developed and versatile infrastructure gives savvy meeting planners an edge when booking events. World-class hotels—many with their own top-notch convention facilities—offer more than 320 thousand rooms in 4- and 5-star categories and there are over 70 state-of-the-art convention centers (three of them EarthCheck certified) around the nation, as well as fairgrounds and other unique venues such as gorgeously restored haciendas and colonial buildings. Equipped with the latest technology and connectivity, many of these venues provide the platform for “smart events” that set the stage for exceptional networking opportunities, unforgettable conventions and profitable meetings.

One of Mexico’s biggest draws—one that has helped place it 9th on the list of international tourist arrivals with over 32.1 million visitors*—is its remarkable offer of cultural tourism and natural attractions. This is a country with an extraordinary legacy, with 33 UNESCO recognized sites (ranking it 6th in the world), over 1,229 museums and 47 thousand archaeological sites. Mother Nature, too, found fertile ground in Mexico for some of her most gorgeous creations, such as Chihuahua’s endless Copper Canyon, which dwarfs the Grand Canyon with its magnificent gorges, not to mention its 5,800 miles (9,330 km) of coastline that are the envy of the world. And every city in Mexico has something in particular, something unique waiting to be discovered, including the traditional cuisine that has been recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. To top it off, the country is home to 9 of Latin America’s Top 50 Best Restaurants (2016).  

The trend towards matching events with industry-specific destinations is on the rise here, too, thanks to its global leadership in several top industries including aerospace, automotive, electronics, and tech and IT. Event planners focusing on this particular site-selection criterion find it provides additional content and context for their clients by putting them within reach of their Mexican counterparts, resulting in career advancement possibilities, conversations regarding business and education within the sector, the marketing of new products and unparalleled networking opportunities (see Cities of Industry).

Last, but certainly not least, there’s the human element of the equation. Mexico’s emphasis on higher education and close strategic partnerships with international meetings organizations  has provided the country with a world-class community of globally certified meeting professionals and service providers. For event planners, being able to hire from a multi-skill, multi-level human resource pool makes sense on both a practical and financial level. Add in the legendary hospitality and genuine warmth of the Mexican people, and the recipe for a successful meeting, corporate event or convention is complete.  

* According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s “Tourism Highlights 2016 Edition”