For the third time, the city of San Miguel de Allende, -located in the heart of Guanajuato-, was chosen as the number one destination in the list of the “Best Cities in the World” in the awards given by Travel + Leisure magazine and To receive and celebrate this recognition, Juan José Álvarez arrived in New York.
The academic training of Juan José Álvarez, Secretary of Tourism of the state of Guanajuato, is diverse, as is his professional career.
This biochemical engineer with marketing studies, business leader and frequent international traveler, is above all passionate about his land, which he knows deeply.
He exclusively shared details of his management, as part of the work of the state government, to maintain tourism leadership in the midst of a pandemic.
You took office at the beginning of the pandemic, what actions have been taken in Guanajuato to face this challenge?
– Governor Diego Sinhue Rodríguez invites me to participate as head of the Secretary of Tourism of the State of Guanajuato, taking office on May 1, 2020, in the midst of a pandemic. The message that the pandemic had reached Guanajuato comes a few weeks before and we are in complete shock.
We did not know what was going to happen, we did not know how we were going to behave, we knew that we should stay at home and in that sense, every challenge represents an opportunity and that was the first opportunity that presented itself to me and I had the decision to take it and get the most out of it.
From your perspective, what was that opportunity?
– When I arrived at the Ministry of Tourism, I came from the Ministry of Economic Development and went to work with a group of collaborators whom I did not know. I take the opportunity to do a job inside the secretariat, taking advantage of the fact that we had all that time to work at the desk.
I begin to receive all my collaborators, to understand what their role was, what their motivation was and at the same time make a diagnosis through systematic planning, to understand in the future, what we believed would happen when the pandemic ended, – We must remember that at that time they had told us that it would be six weeks, we have been eighteen months and we are still in the trance of the pandemic.
The intention was precisely to see how these different systems, both exogenous and endogenous, were going to interact, so that Guanajuato had the tourist indicators that would allow recovery, exit from the pandemic, understand what tourists were looking for, what would be their priorities.
The first months were an internal work, together, so that we could come out strengthened, as is the case with what has happened.
What concrete measures were taken?
– First we take the determinations of, -in this leadership that the State of Guanajuato has-, build a new tourist brand, which will integrate all Guanajuato, the forty-six municipalities, to the different degrees of interest of each one of them, of the tourist attributes, of the provision of services, etc.
There we find, in this tourist brand, in this majestic G with a whirlwind of color, which represents precisely our daily whirlwind, because every day as individuals we have a dynamic, changing life that is transmitted in this tourist brand and additionally, we define a phrase that is:
“Guanajuato lives great stories”, which reflects the origins of Guanajuato, its history in the colony, post colony, in independence of course, until today.
This tourism brand that our governor launched in the middle of the pandemic, -on September 3 in the Basilica of Guanajuato-, making Guanajuato the only state that not only built a promotional campaign for tourism recovery, but also launched a new brand tourism where it tells the world that this image represents everything that happens in Guanajuato, there we fit all Guanajuato, all territories, all our preferences, all our concerns and that is what we transmit.
That was the result of the first months of work, which gave us the opportunity to later be in contact with the public through our Tourism Observatory of the state of Guanajuato, which was founded in 2012, is recognized by the World Tourism Organization and is A national and international reference, it allows us to understand what the
tourist’s priorities were .
What were those priorities?
– The tourist told us, I want to travel short, in my own car, with people who I know who have not had their health at risk and of course, I want to go to a place where health is privileged and that was the instruction of the governor from day one, health comes first in Guanajuato.
That is why we have built with the entire sector, a guide of good practices that we call the distinctive “Guanajuato Sano”, where through a free virtual training, more than 3,500 tourism companies in the state, -for eight months now-, have received training, they have implemented mitigation measures and today it allows us to say
with great clarity and certainty that Guanajuato took good care of itself to take good care of our tourist.
This series of events also led us to create a synergy with neighboring states, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas and Jalisco, that these six states represent more than twenty million inhabitants, that we are close, that we have a great road connectivity, which comes to address what the tourist who wanted to travel short first tells us.
He did not even want to spend the night outside and eventually we have accompanied him in this evolution, so that through a platform called Mexico dot com center visit, he can identify the routes that lead from point A to B, in distances no greater than four hours , so that you can make your journey, if you want from point A to point B or on the way, you can identify cultural, gastronomic, ecotourism, archaeological interests, designations of origin, tequila, mezcal, vineyards, in short, all this great The wealth that the different states have and we call this collaboration “Short Travel”, for obvious reasons.
That was the awakening of the initial shock of the pandemic and that has allowed us today to have very important numbers in the recovery, not only of our flights, of the tourist who comes to visit us and that in a projection that we have made of a future scenario, Through the methodology of the tourist observatory, we will be able to be in Guanajuato towards the end of December, recovering 50% of the hotel occupancy, which we had before the pandemic arrived.
The joint work we have done has allowed us to have this approach, which represents the opportunity of the challenge.