Last year, meetings and conventions held in Mexico generated $18 billion (U.S.) in direct spending, attracted 23 million attendees, accounted for 24 million hotel room nights and helped keep 441,000 Mexicans employed. The meetings industry’s total direct, indirect and induced economic contribution to the Mexican economy in 2010 was $32.5 billion (U.S.), which helped support 784,000 local jobs.
Mexico is the third country to complete an economic impact survey of its meetings and convention industry. PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted a similar study for the United States; Canada conducted its own study a few years ago.
“It’s important to know that these numbers are really conservative because it doesn’t include a lot of things that we consider meetings in the industry,” Canton said at an IMEX America press conference. “We defined a meeting as having a minimum of 10 participants, being a minimum of four hours in length and [taking place] in a contracted venue. That includes conventions, conferences, trade shows/exhibitions, incentive events, corporate/business meetings but excludes consumer shows, social events and sports events.”
Of the 197,400 meetings held in Mexico last year, 66 percent were corporate/business meetings, which attracted 44 percent of the attendees. Just over half of the people who attended Mexican meetings traveled to get there (51 percent); 47 percent came from within other parts of the country and 4 percent were from overseas. Nearly half of all the people who attended Mexican meetings in 2010 were locals (49 percent).
Eduardo Chaillo, executive director of the meetings industry for the Mexico Tourism Board, said that the study gives them the data and tools they need to educate local governments and residents about how important meetings are to the Mexican economy.
Meetings generate $8.7 billion annually for the tourism industry and an additional $9.4 billion in expenditures that are unrelated to tourism (i.e., special facility rentals, caterers, A/V, etc.). At the average meeting in Mexico, $785 is spent per attendee. That number is highest for incentive meetings, where the per-person spend averages $1,064. An average of $869 is spent per trade show/exhibition attendee; $772 is spent per convention/conference attendee. The numbers were higher for foreign participants. For every foreign attendee, an average of $1,092 was spent on their travel, registration and other expenses.
The study not only provides a benchmark of where Mexico’s meeting industry is, it helps industry leaders there target areas of potential growth.
In particular, the association market is very attractive, Chaillo said, because of the number of attendees each association event in Mexico brings and the amount of money spent per attendee. “We know now to approach not only the American associations, but also the foreign associations.”
Public and private sector investment in creating new meeting facilities has increased across Mexico. “We now have 57 world-class convention centers and every year we have two or three new convention centers come online,” Chaillo said. “Sometimes opening a new convention center brings new hotel rooms and new flights. Resorts that used to be only for leisure are now totally equipped for business.” Perennial vacation destination Los Cabos, for example, will host the 2012 G20 Summit in a brand-new convention center.
Chaillo acknowledged that one of Mexico’s biggest challenges is the negative press the country has received and planners’ concerns about attendee safety. “We are launching a new website for meetings,” Chaillo said. “We have a toolkit for planners [so they] know where the problems are and can contextualize the stories.” The toolkit is hosted at visitmexico.com/meetings.