By Daniel Hunter

Trade & Investment Minister Lord Green has welcomed a memorandum of understanding between tourism agency VisitBritain and the Mexico Tourism Board that was signed this week.

The memorandum of understanding was signed in Mexico City by Christopher Rodrigues, Chairman of VisitBritain, and Gloria Guevara Manzo, the Mexican Minister of Tourism and head of the Mexico Tourism Board.

“I am delighted the UK and Mexico are committed to increasing tourism," Lord Green, who accompanied Prime Minister David Cameron to Mexico this week, said.

"I would like to see more British tourists visiting this wonderful country which has world heritage sites, biosphere reserves and rare wildlife, as well as beaches. I also look forward to seeing many visitors from Mexico this summer at London 2012.”

Christopher Rodrigues said that tourism was part of the plan to deliver an economic legacy.

"Tourism is an industry that can deliver growth and jobs to both Mexico and Britain, at a time when the global economic environment looks challenging," he said.

"Latin America is of increasing significance to Britain as we look to deliver an economic legacy from the global showcasing that will result from hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“We look forward to working closely with the Mexican Tourism Board to share key insights which will enable us to build on a Mexican inbound industry which is worth £57 million to the UK economy each year.”

Under the agreement, the UK and Mexico will develop tourism initiatives with an emphasis on luxury travel, adventure, nature, beach, sport and cultural tourism.

The UK is one of the top ten overseas destinations for visitors from Mexico where the average annual income is £24,769. Around 78,000 Mexican tourists visited the UK in 2011. Last year, an estimated 300,000 UK tourists visited Mexico.

InterContinental Hotels Group and Virgin Atlantic are both expanding their businesses in Mexico. InterContinental Hotels Group, which has its global headquarters in Buckinghamshire, has announced that it expects to open five new hotels in Mexico by the end of 2012, with forty further hotels expected to open by 2015.

Last week, Virgin Atlantic started a new service between London Gatwick and Cancun. This investment is expected to generate hundreds of jobs in Mexico and about £20 million for the Mexican economy, and will create at least 70 jobs in the UK.

Airbus recently celebrated a £2.63 billion deal with Mexican budget airline, Volaris, to supply 44 A320 planes by 2014. The deal generated £400 million for the UK economy.

UK-Mexico Tourism Fact File

- The value of tourism to the UK in 2011 was around £31 billion.

- International tourism in Mexico brings in more than $1 billion per month. In 2010, 22 million tourists visited Mexico from around the world and it was ranked 10th globally in terms of international visitor arrivals.

- Mexico has 29 UNESCO World Heritage listings, and the UK has 28.

- Britain is home to three of the top five museums and galleries in the world.

- Mexico’s coastline is 10,000 km long and Cancun, Ixtapa, Loreto, Huatulco and Los Cabos receive about half of Mexico’s tourists. Travelocity ranked Cancun third and Puerto Vallarta eighth in its top ten summer family destinations for 2011.

- Mexico is home to a museum to the Cornish pasty, and an estimated 20,000 people attended a Cornish pasty festival in Real del Monte last year. Football, now Mexico's most popular sport, was introduced to the country by Cornish tin miners.

- Last year, Mexico’s cuisine became the first national cuisine to be awarded cultural heritage status from the UN.

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