Mexico - Tourism, travel, and recreation

Mexico's tourist attractions range from modern seaside resort areas, such as Tijuana, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Cozumel, and Cancún, to the Mayan ruins of Chiapas State and the Aztec monuments of the south-central regions. Mexico City, combining notable features from the Aztec, colonial, and modern periods, is itself an important tourist mecca. Veneration of the patron saints plays an important role in Mexican life, and the calendar is full of feast days (fiestas). These predominantly Roman Catholic celebrations include many ancient Amerindian rites and customs and, invariably, bands of mariachi musicians playing Mexican folk songs. Tourists from the US and Canada may enter Mexico with a tourist card stamped with a Mexican visa. All other visitors need a passport and a visa. Business travelers require non-immigrant visas and business permits.

Mexico was host in 1968 to the Summer Olympics and in 1970 and 1986 to the World Cup soccer championship; the World Cup helped tourism recover from the effects of the earthquake, which kept many visitors away in 1985 and 1986. Mexico's most popular sports are baseball, soccer, jai-alai, swimming, and volleyball. Bullfights are a leading spectator sport; the Mexico City arena, seating 50,000 persons, is one of the largest in the world, and there are about 35 other arenas throughout the country.

In 1998, Mexico was the second most popular tourist destination in the Americas after the US. That year 19,810,000 tourists entered Mexico, over 18 million from the United States. In 2000, there were 20,641,358 tourist arrivals and receipts from tourism were US $8.2 billion. That year there were 421,850 hotel rooms with a 55% occupancy rate.

The cost of traveling in Mexico varies considerably from city to city. According US government estimates, daily expenses are at $230 for Cozumel, $294 for Cancún, $273 for Mexico City, $187 for Tijuana, and $97 for Nogales.

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