Tourism has grown in San Miguel
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
Although a few weeks ago it was announced that Mexico fell three places in the top 10 list of the most visited countries in the world, it seems that has not affected the economy in the city, because national tourism is growing. A few days ago, a profile of visitors to San Miguel de Allende was presented, based on results obtained in 2012 that will help in designing marketing strategies for cities in Guanajuato, including San Miguel. Currently, weekends see the most tourists in San Miguel, and in just one weekend between six and eight weddings take place in the municipality.
In May, the International Association of Tourism announced that Mexico lost three positions in the list of the countries most visited by foreigners, losing 1.28 percent of visitors compared to 2011, falling from 23.4 million tourists to 23.1 million. Mexico was in 10th place, which had been occupied by Malaysia, after Austria and Hong Kong. The first position belongs to France, and the second to the US.
According to Javier Salas, president of the Asociación de Hoteles y Establecimientos de Hospedaje de San Miguel de Allende (Association of Hotels and Establishments for Lodging in San Miguel de Allende), in the past, 50 percent of visitors were from other countries and 50 percent were Mexicans, but currently 30 percent of the tourists in the city are foreigners. “National tourism is increasing while international tourism declines,” he said.
On June 5, Claudia Ávalos Betancourt, director of analysis from the Secretariat of Touristic Development (SEDETUR), visited San Miguel and presented the San Miguel Visitors Profile. This study was conducted in 2012 by an agency hired by the SEDETUR. The random sample was made up of 825 interviews conducted with tourists or visitors in the city, and has a 5 percent error rate. The interviews were performed in front of the Parroquia, outside the Ángela Peralta Theater, Atotonilco, El Chorro, Juárez Park and in front of Casa del Mayorazgo. Those interviewed were men and women over 18 years old not residing or working in the city who stayed at least three hours. According to Ávalos, because the internet is the most widely used medium by tourists for planning vacations, they are planning to start a mailing campaign to attract tourists from those states that do not visit San Miguel, such as Nuevo León, Veracruz, Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Puebla. In San Miguel, 61 percent of those questioned answered that they planned their trip by internet, and for that reason they will propose a campaign for positioning the official page of the municipality online, reinforced by other social media.
The information also indicates that in 2011 San Miguel received 933,395 tourists, who spent individually an average of 3,229 pesos, with a total gross revenue of 3.014 billion pesos.
Weddings in San Miguel
The SEDETUR states that they will work with the federal, state and local government to promote San Miguel as an international wedding destination, as well as a place for unique experiences, including honeymoons. Beatriz Súcar, president of the Association of Venues and Events Planners, told Atención that wedding tourism is increasing and currently they are having from six to eight weddings per weekend.
“San Miguel is fashionable for weddings,” noted Súcar, who also said that the religious ceremonies are mostly held in the Church of San Francisco, Las Monjas and the Parroquia. The weddings, she said, include on average 250 to 300 people with a cost, per person and just for the wedding, of 1,500 pesos. Súcar commented that they do not have a register of how much money they spend on beauty services, flowers, food, lodging, fun or transportation. According to the president of the association, those who come to get married in San Miguel are mostly from San Luis Potosí, Querétaro and from the Distrito Federal, and currently they are having more weddings of people from Nuevo León, Coahuila, Tamaulipas and Chihuahua. From within the state, brides and grooms from Celaya and Celaya have elected San Miguel as their wedding destination. Just a few are from other countries, and the wedding is usually held here when one member of the couple is Mexican.
Súcar noted that currently San Miguel is experiencing its best period as a wedding destination, and she is hoping that it lasts for a long time. In addition, she said that places such as Cuernavaca, Acapulco and Cancún are losing some weddings because the couples are choosing San Miguel instead, and this is because of the quality of the event planning and the tranquility, beauty and safety in this municipality.
Salas commented that in terms of tourism interest in San Miguel is growing. “We are experiencing good times,” he said, adding that nowadays the weekends, after Holy Week, have been high season in the city, because in the past during this month the owners of restaurants, bars and even hotels used to close for remodeling and that has not happened. The establishments are still open and the hotels have registered a high occupation. Salas said that along with the Tourism Council they will work on some strategies for attracting more international visitors to the city.
Mayor Mauricio Trejo said that San Miguel is its best moment and commented that the tourism sector has been revitalized, as well as the real estate sector, and the wedding planners, he said, “have recorded the highest numbers in their history.”
Origin of visitors to San Miguel in 20121 and 2011 (SEDETUR)
Origin 2012 2011
International 5% 8%
National 71% 61%
State 24% 31%
Of the international tourists, 59 percent come from the US and 8 percent from Canada, Chile, Colombia and Spain. National tourists come from the Distrito Federal, Querétaro, Estado de México, and San Luis Potosí, as shown below:
Distrito Federal 28%
Estado de México 7%
San Luis Potosí 7%
Percentage of revenue from tourism in the city:
Expenses, % 2012 2011
Lodging 29 27
Food and beverages 23 27
Souvenirs 10 10
Tickets for events 6 6
Transportation 3 2
Entertainment 12 10
Arts and crafts 10 9
Other expenses 7 9