by Jose Gabriel Martinez and Zhu Yubo
MERIDA, Mexico, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- The southeastern Mexican state of Yucatan is looking to boost cultural and trade exchanges with Chinese counterparts to attract Chinese tourists, a local official has said.
Chinese travelers are usually deemed as "seekers of new experiences" with a love for learning and culture, said Miguel Andres Hernandez, undersecretary of market intelligence at the Yucatan Ministry of Tourism Development, in a recent interview with Xinhua.
"The Chinese market is one of the most important for us, and we will continue trying to enrich and increase our 'twinning' to generate a larger flow" of tourists, said Hernandez, referring to the pairing of Yucatan with two Chinese provinces, Anhui and Sichuan.
After it nailed down a twinning agreement with Anhui in 2014, Yucatan signed a memorandum of understanding with Sichuan in early 2022 to strengthen bilateral friendship and cooperation.
Pairing two geographically distant places as twin or sister cities or regions is a common practice of local governments to expand cultural and trade ties. Such twinning is "a spearhead to attract tourism and generate exchanges in good practices," he said.
The state rich in tourism resources can offer colorful experience -- from romantic beachside getaways to adventure tourism, Hernandez said, highlighting the Mayan culture that flourished in the Yucatan Peninsula, archaeological sites such as the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, and many other tourist attractions.
"We want them (tourists) to think of Yucatan as a destination where they can have a unique, once-in-a-lifetime, complete experience," said Hernandez, who also recommended local cuisine as "one of the most important in Mexico and the Americas."
Yucatan views tourism as a way to strengthen cultural exchanges and spur the economy. Nowadays, the state has set its sights on the Chinese market as part of its tourism recovery strategy, he said.
Last year, the international airport in Yucatan's capital Merida saw a record number of arrivals with some 3 million passengers, and Chichen Itza was the most visited archaeological site in Mexico, Hernandez said.
Although many Chinese visitors arrived in Yucatan from Mexico City or Cancun, Hernandez believes the state's twinning agreements and tourism development strategies will bring more Chinese tourists directly to Yucatan.
Given the populations of China and Mexico, there could be significant tourism and trade exchanges between the two sides, he said, adding strengthening cultural ties will also benefit both sides through greater understanding.
"We must find our similarities in our differences. We have to take advantage of the millenary wealth we both have ... to gain better knowledge of our countries, both our needs and our strengths," he added. ■