Mexico Seals Agreement on Sustainable TourismBy Sofía Hanna | Fri, 11/13/2020 - 12:43
On Nov. 11, UNESCO and SECTUR signed an agreement to promote sustainable tourism in the country. This agreement will help both organizations to cooperate toward the conservation of cultural heritage and making tourism in Mexico more attractive to boost its recovery.
Tourism contributes up to 8.7 percent to Mexico's GDP, according to a previous MBN article. This year, that number has decreased to 3.2 percent, mainly due to the pandemic limiting how much people can travel, as stated in a UN article. Tourism leaders have appealed to the government to reactivate the sector as soon as possible. Among the requests are petitions to increase restaurants' tax deductibility, zero VAT rates for congresses and conventions, among others, as stated in a previous MBN article.
The agreement between UNESCO and SECTUR is supposed to help in generating new jobs, while protecting the country’s heritage, which implies regenerating rural and urban areas and establishing protection protocols for natural and cultural heritage, according to the UN. The agreement was signed by Miguel Torruco, Minister of Tourism, and Frédéric Vacheron, Representative of UNESCO in Mexico. The document clarifies how both organizations will develop actions to preserve the cultural heritage and natural resources of the communities that receive tourists, most of them referred to as Pueblos Mágicos (Magical Towns).
Some of the most important objectives these two organizations have been working on are promoting the involvement of other interested parties to help locals empower their communities, providing tools that can make tourism responsible, sustainable and efficient, aligned to the needs of each community. In the UN report, a representative from UNESCO pointed out it is important to recognize the cultural diversity and value that each of these Magical Towns has, which comes from infrastructure and basic services availability.
As stated in a previous MBN article, Mexico’s tourism depends both on national and foreign tourists and the latter has brought significant losses due to international mobility restrictions. According to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) latest report on air passengers, international demand measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) remains 88.8 percent below 2019, while domestic demand is down 43.3 percent across all member nations. While this new agreement, along with the government’s new platform Visit Mexico 2.0, could attract visitors to the country, a stronger strategy is still needed to reactivate the sector, especially in terms of airline traffic, warns IATA.