PHOTO: Mexico hopes to host 50 million international visitors by 2021. (Photo via Flickr/Stefano Ravalli)
Mexico's tourism industry is riding high on the heels of a historic 2016.
The Mexico Tourism Board announced Tuesday that a record 35 million international travelers visited the country last year. The impressive figure signals a 9 percent jump compared to 2015.
To put the increase in perspective, the global industry average is just 3.9 percent, based on figures from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
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Given the massive visitor growth, Mexico also saw a huge jump in international visitor spending last year, with that figure climbing at a stunning clip of 10.4 percent, according to the country's tourism board. International tourists arriving in Mexico via air travel grew at a rate of 10.7 percent in 2016.
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"Mexico's sustained, fast growth is a testament to the incredible quality and diversity in our tourism offering and the hard work for the entire industry, both internationally and domestically," said the board's CEO, Lourdes Berho, in a statement accompanying Tuesday's announcement.
"Plans are already underway to ensure 2017 builds upon these achievements and that Mexico continues to welcome all visitors and give them reasons to come back again and again."
Berho said that more than 9 million Mexicans are employed by the tourism and hospitality industry.
Additional research conducted by the tourism board suggests a bright future for the exploding destination, with 94 percent of visitors indicating that their visit "exceeded their expectations" and 86 percent saying that they would "like to come back again" in the next six months.
Mexico was named the best international destination for family travel at the 2017 Travvy Awards earlier this year, while Puerto Vallarta was named the second-best international destination for LGBTQ Travel.
The Mexico Tourism Board aims to reach 50 million international visitors by 2021.