Welcome to Baja Online Realty Blog Sign in | Help

Smile you are on candid camera in Mexico

The setup is simple: offer Canadian tourists returning from Mexico a free limo ride home from the airport for filling out a questionnaire about a brand of tequila.

Once in the car the chauffeur peppers the travellers with questions about their Mexican vacation, and hopes the answers are positive.

At the end of the ride the driver asks the tourists to sign a release and they learn the truth: The driver was paid by Mexico's tourist board and the conversation was recorded as part of an ad campaignmodeled on the HBO series Taxicab Confessions, all aimed at combating the perception that Mexico is too dangerous for tourists.

Filming in Toronto finished last week.

The Mexico Taxi Project ads should hit Canadian airwaves by the end of the month. The U.S. campaign is already underway.

Mexican tourism officials say 18 per cent of people travelling there by air come from Canada, a proportion that trails only the U.S. The numbers might be even higher if Canadians could be sure Mexico was safe.

“We know there's a perception in the Canadian market that we want to combat,” says Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete, chief operating officer of the Mexico Tourism Board. “The gap between perception and reality, we want to make sure we close it.”

Mexico isn't the only country trying to lure tourists while battling perceptions that tourism isn't safe.

Colombia's toursim ministry addresses safety concerns in the slogan that appears in their commercials and on their website: The only risk is that you'll want to stay.

Mexico's approach is a little more subtle but very effective, says Ryerson professor Gabor Forgacs, because it allows tourists themselves to assure prospective tourists that the country is safe and enjoyable.

“People trust their peers and social media sources more than what is officially put out by service providers,” says Forgacs, a professor at the Ted Rogers School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. “Of course only the positive (feedback) makes the edit but it gives the illusion and perception of being genuine peer review.”

The taxicab campaign is part of a broader advertising program Lopez-Negrete credits for increasing Canadian tourism to Mexico from 600,000 visitors in 2005 to 1.5 million last year. Those numbers are still rising in spite of a series of diplomatic disagreements and high-profile incidents at tourist resorts that have strained relations between the two nations.

From January 2006 to February 2007, six Canadians died under suspicious circumstances in Mexican tourist centres, including Domenic and Annunziata Ianiero, a Woodbridge couple found slain in their hotel room in the Mayan Riviera.

Last November five Canadians were among the people killed in a gas line explosion at hotel in Playa Del Carmen, a tourist hotspot in just southwest of Cancun.

In 2009 the Canadian government cracked down what they felt were fraudulent refugee claimants from Mexico, and in July of that year imposed visa restrictions on Mexican diplomats visiting Canada. The Mexican government retaliated by placing similar restrictions on Canadian diplomats.

And all of these events have unfolded against the backdrop of an armed conflict between Mexico's military and the country's drug cartels, a running battle the Mexican government estimates has cost more than 34,000 lives, mainly in cities near the U.S. border.

Paul Foster, VP of business development for Tripcentral.ca, vacations in the Mayan Riviera.

He says violent exceptions don't disprove the overall idea that Mexico is a safe vacation spot and agents don't steer vacationers toward regions affected by drug-related violence.

Published Thursday, November 17, 2011 9:08 AM by Zinnia Q.


No Comments
Anonymous comments are disabled