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January 3, 2018

Stats and Trends: Ranking Sustainable Destinations + Growth in Mexico

A new ranking of sustainable destinations for meetings and tourism, plus a report on growth in Mexico, lead this week’s research in the meetings and events industry. 

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Germany, France Top Sustainable Destinations

Looking for a sustainable destination to host an event in the next year? Strong policies supporting sustainability in the tourism industry have helped European countries take the top three spots in the inaugural Sustainable Tourism Index, which spotlights 10 countries across the world.

Developing countries fall well short in policy implementation, though they are showing greater awareness of sustainable tourism goals, according to the report. China and India, index leaders in travel and tourism industry growth, are poised to make a huge impact on sustainability if they can complement their robust tourism sectors with comprehensive environmental- and cultural-protection policies.

Japan leads the socio-cultural sustainability category of the index, but ranks at the bottom for economic sustainability, which gauges the economic importance of tourism to a country.

The index, sponsored by HNA, is the first of its kind to compare countries on their commitment to develop and promote sustainable practices in tourism. The findings were released in white paper The Sustainable Tourism Index: enhancing the global travel environment, featuring interviews with 11 global experts in the field. It finds that while sustainable practices are taking hold around the world, fragmentation reigns even in high-scoring countries, with implementation and monitoring split between different government bodies. In no country, say experts interviewed for the study, is sustainable tourism policy sufficiently integrated between national, local and regional levels.

The index measures performance across five categories: political and regulatory environment, environmental sustainability, socio-economic sustainability, economic sustainability, and travel and tourism industry. One of the main findings of the index is that the effective pursuit of sustainable tourism requires a high degree of coordination between the business and public sector, as well as civil society and individual tourists themselves. Where policies are lagging, companies may be stepping in to fill the void, although the small and medium-sized enterprises which comprise the lion’s share of the tourism industry worldwide still struggle to meet sustainability goals.

Here are the top 10 sustainable destinations from the report, with their sustainability scores (out of 100):

  1. France – 73.9
  2. Germany – 71.7
  3. UK – 62.4
  4. U.S. – 53.1
  5. Japan – 46.0
  6. India – 36.9
  7. Brazil – 34.6
  8. China – 30.8
  9. Indonesia – 27.1
  10. Egypt – 26.5

Compared to their emerging-world rivals, rich nations have done more at the national level to foster this trend. France and Germany, for example, tie for first place in the clarity and robustness of their milestones and action plans around sustainable tourism, while France and the UK tie for first on the rigour of their tourism laws. Nevertheless, there are a number of areas where less developed countries are putting building blocks in place that could positively contribute to sustainable tourism in future. Indonesia, for example, ties for first on the comprehensiveness of its sustainable tourism policy, while Brazil trails only Germany when it comes to the share of national territory (terrestrial and marine) that is under protection. China, meanwhile, is the standout leader on growth in the overall tourism industry—a domain which, while not related to sustainability, indicates where efforts should be directed in order to make the biggest impact on sustainability on a global scale.

Michael Gold, the editor in charge of research program, said: “Progress in sustainable tourism is ongoing in the emerging world, and will hopefully continue apace. While the strong performance of developed nations is encouraging, as developing countries grow in prominence as tourism destinations, they will take on a greater role in driving sustainability in this field, worldwide.”

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit

Mexico’s Meetings Sector Up 6.7%

The Mexico Tourism Board (MTB) reports that its meetings and events sector grew 6.7 percent from January to October, when compared to the same period in 2016. 

Mexico has relaunched its strategic partnership program with meetings industry organizations and initiatives that aim to elevate its ICCA ranking, as well as to increase the economic impact of the meetings and conventions industry in the Mexican economy, which currently accounts for US$25 billion, the MTB said. The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) ranks Mexico as 3rd in Latin America, 5th in the Americas, and 21st globally for meeting and incentive travel.


"The meetings and convention industry is a crucial part of our growth plan focused on elevating the average expenditure of travelers," said Hector Flores, CEO of the Mexico Tourism Board, in a written release. "We are continuing to invest in building Mexico's profile for business events and are working closely with industry leaders around the world to bring more corporate and association events to Mexico while introducing them to destinations beyond our traditional sun and beach offerings.”

The MTB said that Mexico offers businesses strong competitive advantages, including an ideal location, connectivity, infrastructure, affordability and a mature supply chain. Additionally, the country is home to convention and exhibition centers with spaces ranging from 13,000 to 960,000 square feet in more than 56 destinations, providing a wide variety of options for event planners.

The Mexico Tourism Board said it is also looking beyond capacity offerings and focusing on changing the narrative Mexican destinations use to approach the international meetings market. By connecting associations and corporate clients with their counterparts in the local communities and by closely partnering with the different public and private sectors, Mexico's meetings industry is helping corporations to identify academic and business reasons to host meetings, and make the most of the different Mexican destinations. 

To continue strengthening its position in as a top destination for hosting international business events, the Mexico Tourism Board launched a dedicated Meetings and Events plan this year. The implementation of these programs has had a significant positive impact in the industry and in Mexico's strategic approach to growing this important sector.

The National Ambassador Program, consisting of 90 scientific, professional and trade leaders from Mexico with global influence, that resulted in securing important events such as the 14th International Colloquium on Paratuberculosis (Riviera Maya, 2018), 24th Meeting of the International Society of Electrochemistry (Merida 2019), 5th Latin American Congress on Controversies in Diabetes, Obesity and Hypertension (Mexico City, 2019), and the 11th Congress of the World Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery in Cancun in 2021, to name a few examples. As part of this initiative, the Mexico Tourism Board developed a toolkit to provide each ambassador with pertinent information and contacts to support in bringing visitors from the select ambassadors' respective industries.

The Economic Cluster Perspective program serves to diversify the demand across different destinations around the country, not only based on their attractions or capacities, but also on their industry development across diverse sectors such as Aerospace, Automotive, Renewable Energy or IT. As a result of this initiative, the Mexico Tourism Board is launching a pilot regional program in Queretaro, Aguascalientes, and Leon.  

The Client Advisory Board consists of a group of leaders from different sectors in the global meetings industry. The Mexico Tourism Board, along with its partner Professional Convention Management Association, created the board to obtain expert feedback on strategic advancements in the industry, including the identification of leading destinations' best practices and global industry trends.

The Industry Bidding Committee (IBC) is in charge of developing guidelines for the collective efforts when competing to attract World Congresses and International Events to Mexico. The IBC defines specific support criteria and is already coordinating private, public, federal and local resources for international bidding. The committee is also implementing a code of ethics to ensure fair competition among host cities and tracking of successful bids. As a result, there is now a clear process in place to bid for international events, the MTB said.

The Professional Certification Programs ensure local companies are adequately prepared to meet the needs of international events and travel groups. Certifications offered by the new organization include Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), Certified Exhibition Manager (CEM) for tradeshow professionals, Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS) for travel suppliers and Certified Association Sales Executive (CASE) or Convention Service Manager (CSM) for corporate market professionals. As the on-the-ground experience is crucial for repeat visitors, the MTB is aggressively investing in skills training for locals throughout the country. This year alone, there are more than 90 additional certified professionals from different destinations and companies in the meetings industry.  

Accounting for 29 million participants, 30 million room nights and 266 events in a year, the meetings sector in Mexico is an increasingly important part of the tourism industry and the country's economy, the MTB said. The meetings and incentive industry generates 1.5 percent of the country’s GDP, creating nearly a million jobs in Mexico.  

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