With 12 million visitors a year Mexico City may not strike you as a place that needs to beat the bushes to lure more tourists, but that's what's happening.
Officials representing Mexico's giant capital, which has 175 museums, four UNESCO World Heritage sites and nearly 50,000 hotel rooms, have been making presentations throughout the United States and Canada this summer to get the word out that the city not only has a lot to offer visitors, it's also safe.
I spoke with Minister of Tourism Miguel Torruco when he visited Los Angeles on the way to Chicago, New York and Toronto on a summer roadshow to garner publicity for the city. He answered my questions about safety head-on, detailing a network of surveillance cameras (6,000 in the subway systems and 8,000 more throughout the city) and increased police presence that have helped the city overcome most of the problems it confronted a decade or so ago.
When I checked the most recent U.S. State Department travel alerts, I found no advisories in effect for Mexico City tourist areas, which are considered safe and on par with Mexico's popular resort destinations.
But Torruco's main message focused on the diversity of activities the city has to offer.
"We have unique programs that include shopping, culinary routes, adventure circuits and more, so visitors can experience our world-class metropolis in a variety of ways," he said.
Why the tour? I asked.
"The United States and Canada are two top markets for the Mexico City; it is important to highlight our wide range of attractions."
He said the city is increasingly on global travelers’ radar for its history, culture and cuisine and will experience an upswing in leisure travel this year. "New hotels and restaurants are opening in popular areas such as Paseo de la Reforma, San Angel, Santa Fe, Centro Historico and Polanco."
The city also has plentiful long-term assets, including its many archaeological sites, museums and theaters. It also has four World Heritage Sites: Centro Historico (Historic Center); the National University of Mexico; the Luis Barragan House and Studio, home of the Pulitzer-prize-winning architect; and Xochimilco, best known for its canals and gondola-like boats.