PRESIDENT CALDERÓN ADDRESSES TRAVEL INDUSTRY LEADERS 2010 VIRTUOSO® SYMPOSIUM ADVANCES LUXURY TOURISM IN MEXICO
Honorable Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of MexicoAddresses Virtuoso’s 2010 Symposium
L to R: Matthew D. Upchurch, Virtuoso CEO with Honorable Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of Mexico
NEW YORK (April 27, 2010) – In a strong statement of mutual support and commitment, the Honorable Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of Mexico, personally addressed 440 global leaders of luxury travel gathered by the Virtuoso® travel network in Mexico City. In acknowledging the negative press generated by drug cartel violence, President Calderón provided a brief geography lesson on the distances between affected border towns and the rest of this historically rich and culturally diverse country. President Calderón personally recommended experiencing the ancient pyramids of Chichen Itza, the marine reserve within the Sea of Cortez, the unmatched beaches of Cancun and the Riviera Maya, the Monarch butterfly migration phenomenon in Michoacán, the Zócalo plaza of Mexico City, and the recently discovered tomb of Aztec leader Ahuízotl, an archeological site not yet open to the public with tens of thousands of artifacts. During the opening session of Virtuoso’s annual Symposium, where he delivered a surprise speech and question-and-answer session, President Calderón emphasized Mexico’s commitment to growing tourism. He confidently told the audience, which consisted of luxury cruise, tour and hotel executives and top travel retailers, that his government is spending $50 billion on infrastructure improvements to strengthen the country’s support of tourism. “Tourism is key to Mexico,” President Calderón told attendees. “We want to put our country in the hands of your clients. The government and our citizens are ready to serve with open arms as we say, ‘This is where your home is.’ ” “Virtuoso’s annual Symposium represents one of our contributions to help improve global tourism through thoughtful and responsible actions,” said Virtuoso CEO Matthew D. Upchurch. “We invite tourism thought-leaders from various Industry segments and countries to discuss and better understand the key issues facing us today and in the future. This year, we are proud to bring this important event to Mexico and lead by example.” Tourism is Mexico’s third largest source of revenue, generating 1 out of every 7.7 jobs and accounting for 13.3 percent of Mexico’s GDP. Last year’s H1N1 outbreak, the global recession, and drug violence news impacted Mexico, which saw its tourism revenue decline by 9 percent. As a global leader in the travel industry, Virtuoso seeks to identify and support worthy destinations in its annual selection of Symposium sites. Upchurch emphasized that Virtuoso wanted to show its support to Mexico, acknowledging that negative circumstances and the reporting of such events has a significant impact on travel. Virtuoso’s Symposium allows attendees to experience a destination firsthand so that the network’s elite travel advisors can provide their clientele with accurate and current depictions of a destination. Calderón referred to these challenges during his Symposium address, saying, “I can assure you that my administration is determined to protect the safety of both visitors and citizens, who are also eager to show how generous and kind they can be to any friend from abroad.” Virtuoso’s connection to Mexico is a strong one, with 27 member travel agencies and 36 preferred travel providers in Mexico. CEO Matthew D. Upchurch was born in the country and spent his early childhood there. “I have a personal passion for supporting Mexico as a luxury destination,” said Upchurch. “I have experienced this country in a way that not enough people have discovered. Virtuoso’s clients are well traveled, well connected, and educated; they spend more money in-destination because of their passion for experiencing travel to its fullest extent. We held our Symposium in Mexico to show our support, and we will carry President Calderón’s message home to other travelers who are eager to visit this remarkable country.” Thirteen percent of international tourists that visit Mexico are part of the luxury segment, and the country’s appeal as an upscale destination is growing. According to the Virtuoso Luxe Report, an annual survey of affluent travel preferences, Mexico is second only to Italy in popularity as an international luxury destination. The United States and Canada account for almost 80 percent of foreign visitors to Mexico. Virtuoso’s Symposium brings together the top business minds in travel and tourism to discuss issues such as shifts in the consumer mindset and trends in buying patterns. It also represents an opportunity for attendees to experience the highlights of the conference host city. This year, Mexico City proved itself as one of the top destinations in the world. During the conference, held April 15-18, 2010, participants enjoyed private tours of historic landmarks ? many not open to the public – as well as a privileged sampling of authentic Mexican cuisine prepared by top celebrity chefs, tequilas and spirits from the most prestigious makers, and entertainment by some of the country’s top performers.
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