Fewer visitors from Mexico are coming to Houston

U.S. immigration policies and rhetoric cost Texas city tourist dollars

Houston is losing tourism dollars from Mexico, despite being linked to several cities with direct flights. Photo: Chron.com
Houston is losing tourism dollars from Mexico, despite being linked to several cities with direct flights. Photo: Chron.com

Houston welcomed a record 22.3 million tourists in 2018, up from 21.8 million the prior year. But Mexico wasn’t part of that trend.

Even with direct flights from Merida, Mexico City and Guadalajara, Mexican flyers are taking their money elsewhere.

International tourists to the huge Texas city dropped to 3.3 million people in 2018, down from 3.5 million in 2017.

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Franz said the United States’ immigration policies and rhetoric likely played a role in that drop off.

“That is the first real sign that we have seen of that,” said Jorge Franz, senior vice president of tourism for Visit Houston, in the local Chronicle newspaper. “We’ve been monitoring that for the past three years.”

This was primarily caused by fewer people visiting from Mexico, Houston’s largest international market.

“Mexico is a place where people say, ‘I’m going to vacation in Houston,” said Franz. But they say it less often these days. Mexican tourists accounted for 2.2 million people in 2018, down from 2.4 million in 2017.

It’s a shame, Franz said, as Mexican travelers to Houston spend three times more than the average American traveler.

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Business travelers filling Houston’s hotels during the week, but they depend on leisure travelers on the weekends.

“That’s when hotels in Houston need the business,” said Jorge Franz, senior vice president of tourism for Visit Houston, in the local Chronicle newspaper.

Houston visitors spent $9.8 billion in 2018, providing the city with $513 million in tax revenue.

Well-performing sports teams and the Houston Experience Marketplace, a one-year-old website for buying museum tickets or distinct experiences such as brewery tours, also boosted tourism numbers. Franz said the marketplace sold more than 4,000 experiences last year.

With information from the Houston Chronicle

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