City Aims to Lure More Tourists from Mexico

The city's tourism arm, NYC & Co., announced Tuesday it's ramping up its presence in Mexico City

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    The city is making a push to court Mexican travelers as part of a growing effort to lure Latin American visitors, officials announced Tuesday.

    After the estimated number of Mexicans visiting the city nearly doubled in six years, tourism arm NYC & Co. is ramping up its presence in Mexico City, part of its series of far-flung tourism offices.

    "We want to be visible and make sure we're top of mind" to Mexican travelers, NYC & Co. chief executive George Fertitta said.

    The agency has had a consultant in the Mexican capital, but it now has a fuller office, run by Connect Worldwide, a travel-marketing company.

    Fertitta said the agency was "investing millions of dollars in marketing and advertising assets" in the project. But that doesn't mean cash. Rather, it includes such items as arranging to trade outdoor advertising with other cities; NYC & Co. has the ability to place ads on some bus stations and street poles.

    The new office doesn't cater to travelers themselves. Instead, it's meant to help forge closer relationships with Mexican tour operators, travel media, airlines and others who steer where tourists go — "to be able to have day-to-day contact," Fertitta said.

    An estimated 376,000 Mexican travelers took in New York last year, up from 192,000 in 2005. While they represented a small piece of the nearly 51 million tourists last year, by NYC & Co.'s calculations, the agency is putting increasing focus on South and Central America.

    NYC & Co. has opened some 18 offices in countries ranging from Australia to China to Sweden in roughly the last decade. A Brazil office opened in Sao Paulo in 2007.

    The number of Brazilian tourists in New York has shot up since, from an estimated 151,000 in 2006 to 718,000 last year, NYC & Co. says.

    The nonprofit NYC & Co. gets about 40 percent of its $35 million-a-year operating budget from the city government; the rest comes from airlines, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Fertitta declined to specify how much the agency was spending on the Mexico City office.

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