Gustavo Guerrero says he will not be returning to the United States until after Donald Trump leaves office. “I don’t want to suffer the humiliation of being taken out of the line, or being sent back because I have some Trump meme on my phone,” says the 38-year-old graphic designer.
A few days before Trump’s election victory, he had been planning to travel to the Coachella festival, which takes place throughout April near Palm Springs, in southern California. This would have been the third time, but in the end Guerrero decided to cancel the stay. He also opted not to accompany his wife on a work trip to New York in December. “I won’t be going back. I’m clear about that.”
Recent opinion polls show that eight out of 10 Mexicans have a negative opinion of Trump, and like Guerrero, many will change their travel plans, which will have an impact on the US travel industry. In the first half of 2016, Mexicans were the second largest group, after Canadians, to visit the United States.
Eight out of 10 Mexicans have a negative opinion of Donald Trump
Volaris, one of the main airlines serving Mexico and the United States, saw a major drop in passenger numbers in February. The company has just announced a reduction in total capacity of between 5% and 6% on all the destinations it serves. And in the case of US destinations, the Mexican airline has cut its growth forecasts by between 23% and 17%, despite the continued growth in US arrivals to Mexico.
Édgar Solís, president of the association of travel agencies in Mexico City, and Alberto Bojórquez, head of Viajes Bojórquez, say there has been a fall of between 10% and 15% in the number of trips taken by Mexicans to the United States in the last five months, coinciding with the period following Trump’s election victory.
“Their decision was based as much on the political climate as on the fall in the value of the peso,” says Bojórquez.
Francisco Madrid, head of the Tourism and Gastronomy School at the University of Anáhuac, and an expert on the Mexican tourism industry, says the declining numbers of Mexicans traveling to the US as “very important,” noting that the trend will not be fully confirmed until Easter and summer.
Diego Fagre, head of the Spanish company Juliá Tours in Mexico, says he has detected “negative feelings” from many of his clients regarding the United States: “I don’t want to give any figures, because that would be speculation. But I can confirm that there have been cancellations. And also for Easter.”
I won’t be going back. I’m clear about that Gustavo Guerrero
Travel agencies specializing in the United States are rethinking their forecasts for Easter. “We hope that the stabilization of the peso helps,” says Solís. “There will be a fall in numbers, that’s for sure, but I think it won’t be as relevant as those seen in the last few months.”
The beneficiaries of the declining popularity of the United States have been Canada and Mexico itself. Canada is viewed positively by many Mexicans, and a visa is no longer required. Many Mexicans who planned skiing holidays in the United States have opted for Canadian pistes instead. At the same time, cities like Montreal and Vancouver have benefited from a surge in Mexican visitors.
In Mexico, the Mayan Riviera on the Caribbean, as well as Mexico City, are positioning themselves to take advantage of resentment toward the United States.
“Mexicans will find the welcome here that they won’t in the United States,” says Solís.
English version by Nick Lyne.