Mexico City expects tourist numbers to increase 35% in 2010


MEXICO CITY – Mexico City received 10.4 million tourists in 2009 and expects that figure to increase to 14 million next year, helped by events such as free public viewing of World Cup games, according to city officials.

City Tourism Minister Alejandro Rojas said that of the 10.4 million visitors to the capital who stayed in hotels, 2.4 million were foreign tourists and the rest from other parts of Mexico, according to a government release.

Rojas calculated that the economic benefit to the capital from tourism this year was 43.5 billion pesos ($3.3 billion).

Tourism was negatively affected by the recession in Mexico and the U.S., and by the swine flu outbreak in April and May, when authorities shut down public entertainment venues and restricted restaurant activity.

Central bank numbers for the first 10 months of 2009 for all of Mexico showed the number of international tourists, excluding border crossings, down 13% from the same period of 2008 at 9.4 million. Nationwide revenue from foreign tourism was down 17% year-on-year at $9.2 billion.

Rojas said a new law allowing same-sex marriages in the capital could bring more tourists, and that local authorities will work with travel agencies to promote packages.

Mexico City is also among seven cities outside South Africa chosen for the Fifa Fan Fest, in which all of the 2010 World Cup soccer matches will be shown for free on giant screens in the main square.