Productive dialogue between government and industry for travel alerts
Austin, Texas –Spearheaded by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), the National Tour Association (NTA), and the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) delivered a joint request to the Texas Department of Public Safety to contextualize Texas’ travel warnings to Mexico and ultimately to have these warnings downgraded to advisories.
The four organizations, which ultimately represent 20 million US outbound travelers, joined forces to respond to the travel warnings issued by the Texas Government over the course of 2011, viewing the warnings as too generic and thus counterproductive.
The collective opposition to the Texas perspective was generated because of the recent Texas Department of Public Safety statements, which implied that there were problems in more than a specific set of regions. This alert and other state warnings over the past year have discouraged travel to Mexico due to concerns over drug wars in border areas, but are considered inaccurate by tourism experts who take into consideration travel to stable areas within the country. “Eighty percent of the tourists who go to Mexico, travel to six specific locations within the country, all of which are safe for tourists”, said Stowell, “so we ask that the State of Texas focus its warnings appropriately”.
American travel to Mexico represents a significant portion of the business of the four U.S.-based travel organizations. Mexico receives approximately 14.7 percent of all outbound travelers from the U.S., according to US Department of Commerce figures.
Stowell reached out to the leaders of other trade groups in order to gain their support in the request to Texas. Together, ATTA, NTA, USTOA and ASTA have a combined membership exceeding 2,500 tourism companies and 4,000 travel agents.
“We have been working behind the scenes to help challenge misperceptions about this destination,” stated Stowell. “There are specific places, especially along the Mexico/US border experiencing challenges. But most of Mexico remains safe, with incredible culture and nature, far away from the areas of concern, just waiting to be explored. We believe in Mexico.”
For the ATTA’s part, a global travel association with more than 700 members, Mexico remains a viable and extraordinary adventure travel destination. ATTA, which has worked in Mexico since 2006 on various adventure tourism initiatives, chose the State of Chiapas for their annual Summit this coming October. The Summit will be attended by a 600-member delegation of adventure tourism professionals and media representing more than 50 nations.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) engaged in a positive dialogue with the Mexican Tourism delegation and the US business interests and promised to take into consideration information that Mexico provides them about more precise information on the issues of where travelers should not travel.