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Mis Raices” Aims to Bring U.S. Mexican Tourists to Mexico City

NEW YORK, NY -- Miguel Torruco Marques, the Secretary of Tourism for Mexico City, was recently in New York conducting numerous press events, interviews and hosting duties as part of a new initiative Mis Raíces (My Roots), to promote tourism to Mexico City among Mexican-Americans in the United States.

“Mis Raíces” represents the first concentrated effort to bring in U.S. Latinos with a connection to Mexico. “We know that we have a lot of future in this market,” said Marques at a press conference.

Marques came to the Big Apple as part of the program’s first launch. Mexican-Americans are the fastest growing demographic in the New York City, with a population over 500,000. A few days later Marques was in Chicago to make the same overtures to that city’s growing Latino population, followed by Los Angeles and Houston. According to Pew Hispanic 2012 estimates, there are about 33.7 million Hispanics of Mexican origin living in the United States.

“Mis Raíces” is being done in collaboration with Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera and the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce. Mexico City’s Tourism Board is travelling with members from Aeromexico and Mexitours, two key partners in the campaign.

About a third of Mexico City's tourists come from the United States. City officials hope to increase these numbers by targeting millions of U.S. residents of Mexican origin.

Mexico City has seen a promising growth in tourism, about 12 percent in 2013. Over a third of its tourists are coming from the United States; it is the biggest destination in Latin America.

The first phase of “Mis Raíces” centers on popular local Latino newspapers including El Diario in New York and La Raza in Chicago. The second, which is web-based, focuses on business travelers who might want to extend their stay in Mexico City. Ultimately, the city hopes that these travelers, no matter how long they are staying, consume these tailored tourist packages.

“The goal is to make it as easy as possible,” says Mauricio Reyna from the Mexico City Tourism Ministry.

In that spirit Mexico City collaborated with the existing campaign from Mexico launched two years ago, “Live it to Believe It” on television ads. They are stylishly produced advertisements that highlight the cultural impact of Mexico City that will run on stations around the United States. One even features a celebrity cameo from Ringo Starr who met his wife of thirty years ago a few blocks from the Frida Kahlo Museum.

“Mis Raíces” hopes to capitalize on the abundance of culture available in Mexico City. In addition to packages that highlight over 180 museums, there are tours which are specifically designed for foodies and sports enthusiasts.

The gastronomic rise of Mexico City has inspired much tourist fanfare. Marques is particularly proud of Mexico City’s representation on San Pellegrino’s annual list of the best restaurants on the world: Pujol and Biko came in at number 20 and 59 respectively.

Mexico City just opened to the public the biggest aquarium in Latin America, financed by global magnate Carlos Slim, which Marques said is another addition to Mexico City's cultural impact in the region. He did, however, provide a cautionary tale to visitors at the press conference. Marques actually has a small scar on his right hand from a time when he put his hand into a tank with two piranhas. It turns out the sharp teeth piranhas are famous for do indeed bite.

When asked whether potential travelers might express security concerns, Marques points out that the State Department offers no current advisory regarding travel to Mexico City (also known as the Federal District). “We are like any other [huge] city,” he said.

The impact of “Mis Raíces could potentially bring in over one million more visitors this year to Mexico City. Marques and his team are particularly proud of the tours available for visitors who might be seeing family and do not necessarily have a tremendous amount of money to spend. There are still many cultural sites to see like the Estado Azteca and Chapultepec.

Ultimately “Mis Raíces” is about motivating the paisanos in the United States to discover or re-discover Mexico City and schedule time to journey through their heritage, as well as keep coming back. One word of caution - don't put your hands in a piranha tank.