Bags were packed. Tourists donned their favorite travel attire. And Visa account holders traipsed across the globe in 2012. While tourism spending growth on Visa accounts slowed slightly compared to 2011, travelers from Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States were still stretching their travel legs and spending along the way.
Roaming the world – People traveling to Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States spent $57 billion on their Visa accounts–a six percent spend increase in these countries compared to 2011.
China continues to jet to the U.S. – Visa account holders from China had their sights set on the U.S. as they moved into the top three contributors to U.S. inbound tourism. Chinese Visa account holders increased spending by almost 30 percent in 2012 – knocking the United Kingdom out of the top three for the first time since 2009.
Seeking adventure in Japan – Visa account holders from the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Canada showed an increased interest Japan – increasing travel spend in the country by an average of 25 percent, spending $948 million in 2012.
Rodrigo Meireles, Visa’s Head of Mobile Product for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), sees announcements like these having a positive impact on his market, as Visa works to partner with financial institutions, mobile operators and mobile manufacturers in key countries like Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Colombia:
If seeing is believing, then my recent trip to Mexico re-opened my eyes to the real benefits of digital currency, particularly in the lives of low-income families around the world. During a whirlwind four-day trip, we captured the experience of Angélica Cruz Romero, who receives her government benefits on the Oportunidades Visa card, as part of the Currency of Progress video series.
Angélica lives in a modest home on the outskirts of San Juan del Rio, a city of 120,000 people in the state of Querétaro. She is one of millions of formerly unbanked or under-banked Mexican consumers who receives social benefits on a prepaid debit card that keeps her money safe and can be used anywhere Visa is accepted.
As part of the visit, we also interviewed Bernardo González, general associate director of Bansefi, the government-owned issuer of the Visa card. In the coming months, Bansefi aims to include all 6.5 million beneficiaries in the Visa debit card program as part of its long-term goal to reduce poverty by bringing more Mexicans into the formal financial system. “This is absolute[ly] the door to financial inclusion,” he said.
For Angélica, receiving funds electronically gives her peace-of-mind, flexibility and the promise of a better life for her family. I’m very optimistic because I’m taking my children on the right path,” she said. “And this program has helped me a lot because I am heading in the right direction where I wasn’t before.”
I recently spoke with Andrea McKenna from PaymentsSource to discuss some of the key findings from our recent Tourism Outlook: Mexico report. A key takeaway from our chat: “People are traveling to Mexico again.”
Visa has a longstanding commitment to culturally tailored financial education, so we’re particularly excited about our latest initiative in Mexico: “Professor Q: Discover the Magic Behind Your Financial Power.” The theatre performance takes a popular form of entertainment in Mexico and turns it into a chance to teach young people how to be smart with their money.
In the educational show, Professor Q, who is Merlin the Magician’s financial analyst, explains how to handle personal finances responsibly through the use of fun magic and illusions. The series focuses on saving, budgeting and how to use credit responsibly, providing youth from kindergarten through college with a better chance of leading a financially responsible life.
The video clip from the debut performance shows why Visa believes this type of education program creates an impact: the audience is engaged, laughing and learning. From South Africa and Mexico to the U.S. and Brazil, Visa will continue to lead by example with innovative, effective financial education theatre programs that directly reach audiences in a dynamic and compelling way.