by Edna Alcantara, Mao Pengfei
MEXICO CITY, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Mexico is developing promotional programs to attract foreign tourists, especially from China, an official has said.
The number of Chinese tourists to Mexico increased 30 percent last year compared to 2014, Deputy Tourism Minister Francisco Maass Pena told Xinhua on Sunday.
Despite the rapid growth, there is still potential, he said.
Outbound tourism in China is growing by leaps and bounds. In 2015, 120 million Chinese traveled abroad, 11 million more than the year before, according to China National Tourism Administration.
Favorite destinations include South Korea, Japan, the United States and Thailand, but some 35 million Chinese travel further afield. Mexico are casting eyes on those Chinese tourist, said Maass.
"Mexico is currently the second favorite destination in Latin America for Chinese travelers, but we want to be the first and that's what we're working for," he added.
Chinese tourists generally spend much on accommodation and transportation as they tend to stay longer, he said.
"To visit this country, it's a long, long-distance trip, so it generates a large economic benefit for Mexico," he said.
Mexico will try to attract more travelers from China and other countries by simplifying visa procedures and increasing flights between the two countries, Maass said.
Aeromexico operates 13 direct flights a week between China and Mexico. The Mexican government is in talks with Chinese airlines for more flights, said Maass.
A new airport planned for Mexico City is expected to handle more flights from China as well as other destinations, leading to a further increase of visitors.
The Tourism Ministry is also working on several promotional programs, including one to draw student travelers between the ages of 20 and 30, he said.
In addition, the ministry has studied the tastes and preferences of Chinese travelers and found that, unlike most North American tourists, they prefer colonial towns, historical sites and cultural excursions to seaside resorts.
"We focused especially on the issue of prestige, luxury and entertainment, which are very attractive to Chinese tourists," Maass said.
The ministry is planning to launch a program called "Close to China," which will help Mexican tourism service providers, including hotels, restaurants and travel agencies, to improve their quality and services to attract more Chinese tourists.
Maass said the ministry is confident that it will serve to draw more Chinese visitors, particularly to Mexico City, Tijuana and Cancun.