The Mexico Tourism Board, amid news reports of drug gang–related violence around U.S. border towns, has underscored its commitment to the U.S. meetings and incentives market by building a new Web site specifically for U.S. meeting planners. It addresses many practical matters, including a tool kit that addresses safety and security concerns, according to Eduardo Chaillo, executive director, meeting industry, for the Mexico Tourism Board.

He says that planners who want to bring groups to Mexico are looking for educational tools they can share with their stakeholders, which can be as basic as providing maps and geography lessons.

Chaillo and other government tourism officials, as well as Mexican hotel chain representatives from Meliá Hotels, Gran Velas, AM Resorts, Palace Resorts, Starwood Mexico, and Grupo Posadas (Fiesta Americana), took to the road in late summer. They spoke with executives at all of the major incentive and meeting houses in the Midwest to address safety concerns as well as to discuss what’s new, including billions of dollars in investments in the tourism and hospitality infrastructure between private and public sectors. Chaillo says that “about 70 percent of our incentive business from the U.S. comes from major Midwest incentive houses, including BI, Creative Group, Aimia, BCD, and Maritz.”

The vast majority of Mexico’s meetings and incentives takes place in the resort areas of Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa, Cancun, Riviera Maya, Riviera Nayarit, and Mazatlán, far away from those areas reporting the violence.

At IMEX America in October, the Mexico Tourism Board also presented the results of a new study on the significance of the meetings industry for Mexico's economy, a study comparable to the one the Convention Industry Council and partners sponsored for the U.S. meetings market in 2010. The new study demonstrates that Mexico’s meetings industry accounts for over 1.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, is responsible for 18 percent of its overall tourism spend, and represents $18 billion in direct expenditures. In 2010, 197,400 meetings were held in Mexico, attended by 23 million individuals and generating 24.2 million room nights.

Mexico has moved up in the International Congress and Convention Association world congress rankings from 27th place in 2009 to 22nd place in 2010.