Mexico relies on Facebook to kick travel slump

Travel to Mexico got a big ol’ kick in the cojones last year. The global recession spanked airlines and hotels around the world, and since the United States was ground zero for the financial crisis that accelerated the recession, Mexico likely lost some action from its biggest trading partner. And then swine flu came along, bringing much of the Mexican tourism and travel industry to a crawl. When I was in Los Cabos last May, I didn’t lack elbow room. Well, an 82 percent drop in Mexican tourism, according to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, can have that effect.

To kickstart the industry and attract more people to the warm sun south of the border, the Mexican Council for the Promotion of Tourism just completed a combination game and giveaway through Facebook. The Gracias A Ti Vive Mexcio website used Facebook Connect to make 10 people incredibly happy with free trips awarded from December 21, 2009 through the end of the year. The only catch was that you had to live in Mexico and have a Facebook page. Winners were selected by game rankings (more details over at Inside Facebook), and the top scorer got to choose from Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Huatulco – and bring a guest.

With more than 1,300 fans on the Facebook page, it looks like the promotion was a success. And, why wouldn’t it be? Mexico is one of the fastest growing countries in Latin America for Facebook, with 6.67 million users.

Is swine flu changing your travel plans?

TripAdvisor asked its visitors a simple question: are you changing your travel plans because of the swine flu scare? Plenty of people had answers: 2,857 people, to be exact. The vast majority (61 percent) won’t be deterred by the risk of swine flu, though there’s no indication of how many of these respondents are headed to high-risk areas. Twenty-four percent are making adjustments to upcoming excursions, and 15 percent didn’t have any travel plans to change.

How about you? Are you changing your travel plans? Or, are you ready to push forward?