Tourism in Mexico
is a very large industry. Mexico is the number one destination for foreign tourists within the Latin America
region, ranking worldwide in the eighth place in terms of the international tourist arrivals, with 21.4 million visitors in 2006. Revenues from international tourists reached USD
12.17 billion in 2006, and Mexico captured 15.7% of the Americas
international tourism market share in terms of arrivals, just second to the United States
. In 2005, tourism contributed with 5.7% of the country's revenues from exports of goods and
services, and represented 14.2% of direct and indirect employment.
The most notable tourist attractions are the ancient Meso-American ruins, colonial cities, and popular beach resorts. The nation's temperate climate and unique culture – a fusion of the European (particularly Spanish) and the Meso-American – also make Mexico an attractive destination. The peak tourism seasons in the country are during December and the mid-Summer, with brief surges during the week before Easter and the Spring break, when many of the beach resort sites become a popular destination for college students from the United States. The vast majority of tourists come to Mexico from the United States and Canada. Most of the other visitors come from Europe and Asia. A small number of tourists also come from other Latin American countries.
There is also a burgeoning domestic tourism trade as a growing affluent middle class begins to vacation within their own country. While Mexico's middle/lower class usually promotes national tourism, the middle/higher class usually prefers to travel overseas, especially Europe and the United States, but also Asia and South America. In fact Mexico is the twenty-third tourism spender in the world, being the highest in Latin America.
In terms of 2008 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), which is a measurement of the factors that make it attractive to develop business in the travel and tourism industry of individual countries, Mexico reached the 57th place in the world's ranking, the fifth among Latin American countries, and the ninth in the Americas. Just considering the subindex measuring human, cultural, and natural resources, Mexico ranks in the 19th place at a worldwide level, and 25th for both the natural resources criteria and the cultural criteria. The TTCI report also notes Mexico's main weaknesses, information and communications technology infrastructure (ranked 64th), ground transport infrastructure (ranked 82nd), and safety and security (ranked 122nd).
- Mexico City/Federal District (Mexico) – Capital of Mexico and popular with tourists as an ancient Meso-American city, a megalopolis conurbation, and the site of many popular tourist attractions such as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. The man-made tourist zones of La Zona Rosa, El Palenque and El Zócalo are also here. The city is also home to the Plaza de Toros México – the world's largest bullring – and to the Mexican National Palace built on the site of Moctezuma's palace, and the huge Metropolitan Cathedral the largest in the western Hemisphere, built over the even Greatest Teocalli Temple of the Aztecs. Mexico City features also one of the great museums in the world: the National Museum of Anthropology and History which is worth a visit to Mexico in itself.
- Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, the country's most modern and industrial city. Founded in the late 1400s, the downtown area is the oldest section of the city, surrounded by newer sectors. The MUNE, Museo de Historia Mexicana, MARCO, Metropolitan Museum of Monterrey and the Museo del Palacio de Gobierno are some of the most famous museums not just in the city or in the country but around the world as well. Santa Lucia Riverwalk is an artificial riverwalk similar to the one in San Antonio, Texas, which has a length of 2.5 km and connects the Fundidora Park with the Macroplaza, the second largest plaza in the world.
- Guadalajara, Jalisco, Guadalajara is the best city in Mexico through its traditions like: tequila, mariachi and charros etc. Along with its similtude with southern European countries mixed with modern ideals.
- Morelia, Michoacán – Capital of the State of Michoacán. Its Historic Downtown Area (Centro Histórico) encompasses approximately 150 city blocks at the city center, roughly corresponding to the urban area of the city at the end of the eighteenth century. The Centro Historico contains over1,000 historical buildings and sites, including but not limited to the Cathedral, the Aqueduct and several churches.
- Oaxaca, Oaxaca
- Zacatecas, Zacatecas
- Santiago de Querétaro, Querétaro
- Guanajuato, Guanajuato
- Puebla, Puebla
- San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas
- Acapulco, Guerrero
- Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur
- Cancún, Quintana Roo
- Ensenada, Baja California
- Guaymas, Sonora
- Puerto Peñasco, Sonora(Also Called Rock Point)
- Huatulco, Oaxaca
- Ixtapa, Guerrero
- Mazatlán, Sinaloa
- Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo
- Playa Miramar. Cd. Madero, Tamaulipas
- Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
- Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
- San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur
The coastlines of Mexico harbor many stretches of beaches that are frequented by sun bathers and other visitors. On the Yucatán peninsula, one of the most popular beach destinations is the resort town of Cancún, especially among university students during spring break. Just offshore is the beach island of Isla Mujeres, and to the east is the Isla Holbox. A day trip to the south of Cancún is the historic port of Tulum. In addition to its beaches, the town of Tulum is notable for its cliff-side Mayan ruins.
On the Pacific coast is the notable tourist destination of Acapulco. Once the destination for the rich and famous, the beaches have become crowded and the shores are now home to many multi-story hotels and vendors. Acapulco is home to renowned cliff divers: trained divers who leap from the side of a vertical cliff into the surf below.
Along the coast to the south of Acapulco are the surfing beaches of Puerto Escondido, the snorkeling, harbor beach of Puerto Ángel, and the naturist beaches of Zipolite. To the north of Acapulco is the resort town of Ixtapa and the neighboring fishing town of Zihuatanejo. Further to the north are the wild and rugged surfing beaches of the Michoacán coast.
Along the central and north Pacific coast, the biggest draws are beaches of Mazatlán city and the resort town of Puerto Vallarta. Less frequented is the sheltered cove of Bahía de Navidad, the beach towns of Bahía Kino, and the black sands of Cuyutlán. San Carlos, home of the Playa los Algodones (Cotton Beach), is a winter draw, especially for retirees.
At the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula is the resort town of Cabo San Lucas, a town noted for its beaches and marlin fishing. Further north along the Sea of Cortés is the Bahía de La Concepción, another beach town known for its sports fishing. Closer to the United States border is the weekend draw of San Felipe, Baja California.
The central and southern parts of Mexico was host to several pre-Hispanic civilizations, with the most prominent being the Aztec, Mayan, and the Olmec. There are numerous tourist destinations where these ruins can be viewed.
The Yucatán peninsula was home to the Mayan people, and many of the indigenous people still speak the language. The area also contains many sites where ruins of the Maya civilization can be visited. The richest of these are located in the eastern half of the peninsula and are collectively known as La Ruta Puuc (or La Ruta Maya). The largest of the Ruta Puuc sites is Uxmal, which was abandoned in the 12th century.
A one hour drive to the northeast of Ruta Puuc are the surviving remains of the city of Mayapán. This settlement was controlled by Chichén Itzá to the east, now a large archaeological site with many interesting ruins. Other ruins on the peninsula include the aforementioned Tulum on the east coast, Cobá to the northwest of Tulum, and Calakmul in the nature reserve along the Guatemala border. However this list by no means exhausts the number of archaeological sites to be found in this area.
To the west, the state of Chiapas includes the temples and ruins of Palenque, the glyphs of the city of Yaxchilán, the painted walls of nearby Bonampak, and the remains of the fortress of Toniná. In the city of Villahermosa to the north is the Parque-Museo La Venta, with a collection of Olmec sculptures.
Along the gulf coast area in the state of Veracruz are more archaeological sites, with the Olmec ceremonial center of Tres Zapotes, the ruins of the large Totonac city of Zempoala, and the ruins of El Tajín with the Pyramid of the Niches. The city of Xalapa contains the Museo de Antropología, a notable museum featuring a collection of massive Olmec head sculptures.
In the state of Oaxaca along the Pacific coast are the ruins of Mitla, known as the "City of Death" and of Monte Albán, the remains of the once extensive Zapotec capital and religious center.
Moving to the north, the central region about Mexico City contains several archaeological sites. To the southwest are the massive ruins of Teotihuacán, including the Pyramid of the Sun and the Temple of Quetzalcóatl. To the southeast near the city of Cholula is the Great Pyramid, visible from the city center. Just to the north of Cholula are the well-preserved ruins of the city of Cacaxtla. Last but not least is the Toltec capital of Tula, to the north of Mexico City. In the capital itself is the largest museum in Mexico, the Museo Nacional de Antropología.
Finally, less visited than the major sites are the mysterious ruins of La Quemada, sometimes referred to as Chicomostoc, located south of Zacatecas, Zacatecas in the northern half of Mexico.
Spanish colonial history
- Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes. Famous for its world renowned festival San Marcos Fair during which it attracts 7 million tourists. This colonial City has gained prestige and status as a national destination for its colonial beauty, and absolute cleanliness. There are many amazing squares and gardens, surrounded by numerous buildings, from baroque churches to porfirian mansions.
- Campeche, Campeche. The only walled city in Mexico, is a World Heritage Site.
- Cuernavaca, Morelos. Historic marvelous architecture, many times hidden behind tall walls, fortresses and monasteries, some UNESCO sites
- Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato. The most important historical city of the country where the Mexican Independence War from Spain began.
- Guanajuato, Guanajuato. It's a wonderful colonial treasure. This was the second most important city of the Viceroyalty of the New Spain. The whole town is a World Heritage Site.
- Mérida, Yucatán. Dubbed the white city, with mayan tradition has many colonial Mansions of impressive beauty.
- Mexico City. The City of Palaces as Alexander von Humbolt called it. It has been the capital of the country for almost 700 years. Since the foundation of the Aztec Empire until nowadays.
- Morelia, Michoacán. Excellent colonial architecture can be admired in this city.
- Oaxaca, Oaxaca. Colonial Architecture and Indigenous tradition are mixed here.
- Puebla, Puebla. The city of colorful tiles and Grand architecture, its historic center is a World Heritage Site
- Querétaro. The state capital has a beautiful baroque downtown, declared a World Heritage Site. Other popular destinations include the third tallest monolith in the world (Peña de Bernal), a city famous for its thermal springs in the middle of a wine and cheese making area (Tequisquiapan), and astonishing natural and cultural beauties in the biosphere reserve of Sierra Gorda.
- San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí. Rich in ancient times from its mines, this colonial city was the capital of Mexico twice.
- San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. One of Mexico's oldest towns. Many historic churches and the open-air Plaza Allende. An exceptional beauty Gothic Cathedral is located here.
- Sombrerete, Zacatecas. Colonial town, it is famous for the historic churches and the colonial architecture.
- Taxco, Guerrero. Silver jewelry. A very famous baroque church is located here, its interior is the most admired since the baroque ornamentations are all covered in gold.
- Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala. Four centuries without change are present in this city, famous for its Arabic mudejar open air chapel, next to the cathedral.
- Veracruz, Veracruz. The first City Hall in the Americas was settled here. It is simply a paradise.
- Zacatecas, Zacatecas. The city downtown is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is famous for the astonishing pink facade of its cathedral, it is baroque in style, and exuberant in its ornamentation. The city is a delight for the national tourism.