Inaugural event brings together city leaders, chefs, and artisans
HOUSTON, March 24, 2022 – In less than a week, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston First Corp., and the Greater Houston Partnership will embark on an economic development mission to Mexico, March 28-April 1, with stops in Monterrey and Mexico City.
The delegation is joined by strategic partners, Houston Airport System and United Airlines, as part of an aggressive strategy to reinforce Houston’s position as the top city for global trade, tourism, business, and leisure travel from Mexico.
As part of the activations, the delegation and strategic partners will be meeting with the Mexican secretary of tourism, Gov. Samuel Alejandro Garcia Sepúlveda of Nuevo León, Mayor Donaldo Colosio Riojas of Monterrey, vice-minister of foreign affairs, Roberto Velasco, as well as top tour/travel operators and meeting professionals.
Members of the delegation also will be participating in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding or MOU to strengthen existing ties between the State of Nuevo León and city of Houston.
“Houston consistently ranks among the top markets for international companies looking to establish or strengthen ties in the U.S. With an active port, a talented and diverse workforce, and continued development in sectors such as healthcare, life sciences, and technology, the City is a hub for innovation and development. We look forward to strengthening our ties with Mexico and emphasizing Houston’s global position as a prime location for business and enterprise,” Mayor Turner said.
Serving as Houston’s largest trade partner, Mexico plays an important role in the city’s economy. In areas such as manufacturing and food products, both Mexico and Texas have created such an economic concentration in those sectors that many Mexico-based companies were led to open facilities in the Lone Star State, according to The Texas Economic Development Corporation.
“We are fortunate to live in a destination where residents from all across the globe populate the city. As we look to sustainably increase the number of visitors from Mexico to Houston, the influx of new ideas and influence will only enhance the incredible tapestry of cultures that already exists here,” Houston First Corp. President and CEO Michael Heckman said.
Mexico also is Houston’s largest market for international visitation. According to a 2020 Travel Marketing Insights Inc. report, Houston received an estimated 3.4 million international travelers, with Mexico accounting for 70 percent of those visitors. The report also indicated that Mexican visitors contributed $913 million USD in total direct spending while visiting Houston. (source: Travel Markets Insights Inc. July 2020).
“Houston Airports’ already-robust relationship with Mexico grew even stronger during the pandemic,” Director of Houston Airports Mario Diaz said. “Today we have more flights to Mexico than in 2019 and Bush Airport continues to offer more flights to Mexico than any other airport in the U.S. Houston is one of the leading markets in the U.S. by the number of Mexican destinations served and the number of Mexican visitors received per year. This economic development mission will nurture our strategic partnership with Mexico that is vital for our airports and our city.”
Research by Expedia Global Research shows that Houston ranked #1 among U.S. cities booked during the first quarter in 2021. Increased competition in the market, however, has affected searches for 2022 and creating brand awareness for Houston in Mexico will be key to driving steady interest back to pre-covid levels.
“With more than 70 years of service to the southeast Texas region, United is proud to be Houston’s hometown airline,” United Airlines Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales Doreen Burse said. “As the country’s gateway to Latin America and Houston’s largest carrier to Mexico, serving the market for over five decades, we are honored to have played a critical role in arranging travel for the city’s trade mission to Mexico – helping to connect Houston to the world, and the world to Houston.”
Strengthening Houston’s position as a leading destination for business, travel and tourism will be the creation of a multi-city market activation known as “Houston Week.” The inaugural event incorporates a myriad of diplomatic and public relations efforts, business development, corporate and travel trade meetings, as well as social activations before culminating into an experiential evening event that showcases the very best of Houston.
The hallmark of Houston Week will be “Hola Houston” a dynamic sensory and culinary experience curated to reintroduce and excite attendees about all things Houston.
Taking place inside Zanq on March 29 in the Valle Oriente area in San Pedro Garza García in Nuevo León, and later that week on March 31 at Centro Cultural Estacion Indianilla in Mexico City, invited guests will have an opportunity to engage with some of Houston’s most iconic artists, designers, mixologists, and James Beard award-winning chefs. This dynamic showcase includes:
- Chef Hugo Ortega: Owner and executive chef of four of Houston’s top restaurants, including Backstreet Café, URBE, and Caracol. He has been named Best Chef: Southwest by the prestigious James Beard Foundation.
- Chef Ruben Ortega: Pastry chef for the H-Town Restaurant Group. His decadent creations at Xochi in Houston earned him a spot as a 2022 semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef by the James Beard Foundation.
- Chef Kiran Verma: Recognized as the “godmother of Indian fine dining,” Chef Kiran’s restaurant is known for serving up Indian hospitality with French sophistication and American informality.
- Chef Chris Williams: Earning numerous accolades for his Southern-style cuisine, Chef Chris continues to use influences from across the globe to curate his menu at Lucille’s.
- Mixologist Chris Morris is a four-time national finalist of esteemed cocktail competitions and earned numerous regional awards. His creative interpretation of the classic paloma at Chef Nikki Tran’s Viet-Cajun restaurant Kau Ba is the perfect example of Houston’s blended culture.
- Demola the Violinist: A native Lagosian turned Houstonian is an artist, songwriter, producer and renowned violinist who combines Afrobeats, pop, hip-hop and Reggae into exciting fusion covers. His performances have been featured during the 2021 State of the City in Houston and James Beard Awards program.
Art + Fashion
- Magpies and Peacocks: Located in the heart of Houston, this is the only nonprofit American design house dedicated to the collection and sustainable reuse of post-consumer clothing, scrap textiles, and accessories diverted from landfills.
- David Maldonado: Recognized as @capdavjon on Instagram, David is a Houston-based multi-disciplinary artist who celebrates the vibrant stories of his community through public art. His eye-catching pieces can be seen in neighborhoods and major buildings throughout the city.
Following the debut of Houston Week, Houston First Corp. will deploy a national marketing and branding campaign in Mexico that will be featured in publications such as Forbes, Robb Report, GQ, Vouge, Conde Nast, Reforma, Food & Wine, Life & Style and Expedia, among others.
“Our campaign creative, ‘Vibra Global Que Inspira’ presents a unified brand proposition for tourism, economic development, investment attraction, talent attraction and quality of life that celebrates the authenticity and appeal of our great city,” adds Mr. Heckman.
Later this year, Houston also will prepare to launch its first U.S.-Mexico Travel Fest, a weekend celebration hosted inside the city’s George R. Brown Convention Center on Oct. 28-30. The event will welcome more than 35 destinations from Mexico and the U.S. and nearly 20,000 visitors who are looking for their next vacation.
Click here to read more on the importance of Mexico to Houston.
Click here to preview Houston First Corp.’s 2022 creative campaign.