Guadalajara, the capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco, has a long-standing reputation in the meetings and events industry as a host of international conferences. Also, it is a destination of great importance in organising business events, exhibitions, and conventions nationally and internationally.

The Government of the State of Jalisco is working hand in hand with local governments, the Guadalajara Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board, Expo Guadalajara, the Puerto Vallarta International Convention Center, and the private sector to attract events of this type and to continue hosting business events.

“Strengthening tourism infrastructure will contribute to our vision of continuing to host world-class events, with a commitment to promote events that generate a long-term positive impact on the destination,” says Claudia Vanessa Pérez Lamas, the Minister of Tourism of the State of Jalisco.

Until October 2021, she worked as General Director of Evaluation and Monitoring at the Chief of Cabinet of the Government of the State of Jalisco.

Claudia Vanessa Pérez Lamas holds a master’s degree in Development Studies, with a specialisation in Economic Development and a subspeciality in Econometric Evaluation of Public Policies, from the Institute of Social Studies (Erasmus University) in The Hague, Netherlands. Also, she has a bachelor’s degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Universidad del Valle de Atemajac in Guadalajara.

For the last ten years, she has worked in the public sector at the three levels of government: in the Federal Government, in the Pro México offices in the United Kingdom as a Promoter of Exportable Supply, and in the State Government in Jalisco Business Development Fund as Coordinator of Institutional Outreach.

In the Municipal Government, Claudia Vanessa Pérez Lamas has served as Director of Investment Attraction and Employment Promotion, in the Center for Economic Promotion of Zapopan, and, later, in the Guadalajara Chief of Staff office as Advisor in Public Policy and Project Management.

In the Government of the State of Jalisco, she was responsible, from 2018 to 2021, for the systematic monitoring of the government’s strategic projects.

The first project of the Evaluation and Monitoring Office was coordinating the redesign of the governmental structure, including creating a new model where all state ministries with substantive public policy functions are grouped into four coordinations.

With this background, Claudia Vanessa Pérez Lamas has seen the importance of developing business events in Guadalajara for the universities, hospitals, key sectors, and Mexico.

“The business event segment creates more than 41,000 direct jobs in Jalisco”

“It is of utmost importance as the business event segment creates more than 41,000 direct jobs in Jalisco and produces a GDP of 1,826 million USD, representing 20.4 per cent of the total income of the tourism sector. Also, it is important to mention that Jalisco is the third state with the highest GDP in tourism.”

Claudia Vanessa Pérez Lamas says it is relevant to mention that the development of this type of events, as others pertaining to business meetings, contributes to the exchange of knowledge, technology, work models, best practices, and cohesion of the different sectors.

An example of this last point is that when educational events are held, there is a synergy between the participation of speakers, teachers, students, and volunteers and the educational content they generate and take from this kind of event.

In medical meetings, of the total number of national and international congresses won and confirmed in 2022 for Guadalajara, almost 20 per cent were medical congresses.

But do the universities and hospitals realise that they are essential knowledge drivers of meetings and events to create more business events in Guadalajara?

“Partially. For this reason, through the Guadalajara Convention Bureau, we have created an Ambassador Program where we recognise these leaders of different sectors. This programme has grown from having eight ambassadors in 2017 to having over 70 people today.”

According to Claudia Vanessa Pérez Lamas, politicians in Guadalajara, and Mexico, understand the potential for the State of Jalisco in business events. The city has a rich history of hosting meetings and events and is home to 61 venues, 22 arenas and stadiums. More than ten new hotels will arrive in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area. By 2024, there will be a total of 30,000 rooms to offer.

“The local and state governments recognise the importance of business events. Furthermore, we have the largest convention centre in México, Expo Guadalajara, where the Government is part of the board, and we also operate the convention centre of Puerto Vallarta.”

Guadalajara Convention Bureau, together with the Tourism Trust of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area, has helped to attract and provide extensive advice and support to, for example, congresses, fairs and exhibitions for over 50 years.

“When we support events, we consider whether the committees implement sustainable actions”

The Government has been part of multiple bidding teams and is a coorganiser of several business events. To mention some events that have been won: International Society for the Performing Arts Congress 2019, Congress of the International Society for Burn Injuries 2024, and Gay Games 2023.

The most important strategic question at the moment is a strategy for the Integration of Biodiversity in the Tourism Sector of the State of Jalisco. It was developed to establish lines of action to incorporate biodiversity as a central axis in tourism products and services. Jalisco is the first state in the country to have a specific strategy of this type.

The strategy has technical support and financing from the Adaptur project (ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change in the Tourism Sector) of the German Agency for International Cooperation and the French Agency for Development.

The axes of the strategy are :

Axis 1 Substantive  Directly impacts so that biodiversity is maintained and protected, and sustainable tourism activities are carried out.

Axis 2 Coordination  Actions of planning, diffusion, coordination, and arrangements of the public and private institutions in the different sectors.

Axis 3 Support  Actions that enable the necessary conditions and attributions for an efficient implementation of the strategy and its evaluation.

Additionally: Three workshops were held in the municipalities of Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta and Tapalpa, with the participation of government officials from the tourism, environment, and related sectors, as well as personnel from civil organisations, tourism companies and service providers, promoters, and academia, among other key stakeholders for the construction of the strategy.

“The State Committee for Sustainable and Regenerative Tourism in Natural Protected Areas and other Conservation Mechanisms was established. Also, support was provided to five sustainable tourism companies in the Biocultural Landscape. They were given a course on destination management, in which they developed a sustainable tourism action plan to implement it.”

“The development of business events contributes to the exchange of knowledge, technology, work models, best practices, and cohesion of the different sectors”

On the question of what kind of initiatives Claudia Vanessa Pérez Lamas as a minister, can take regarding sustainability and business events, she answers:

“We operate or participate in four tourism trust funds, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, Costalegre and the one for the other municipalities. Moreover, we take the media and influencers to know and write about ecotourism and sustainable products, for example, glamping, haciendas and the four seasons.”

Other initiatives are creating newsletters and managing interviews to talk about the products.

“We work with associations such as Adventure and Ecotourism Mexican Association to promote these products, and we promote these products on our social networks. And when we support events, we consider whether the committees implement sustainable actions.”

The Ministry of Tourism participates in the Landscale project, a global project that seeks to incorporate best practices in the use of natural resources with the following objectives:

  1. To promote the harmonious development of rural and agro-industrial productivity by preserving natural heritage and ensuring sustainability, equity, and justice in commercial and environmental relations.
  2. To promote the sustainable management of ecosystems and their biodiversity, and the valuation of the goods and services provided by the natural heritage.
  3. To promote the orderly use of the landscape and build collaborative relationships in favour of social wellbeing and improvements in the quality of life.
  4. To promote the valuation of the local collective identity and cultural heritage making the landscape an exceptional territory.
  5. To promote the governance and effective management of water with a watershed approach, considered a priority element for the sustenance of the landscape.

It is currently being implemented in the municipalities of Tapalpa, Atemajac de Brizuela, Chiquilistlán and San Gabriel with the Ministry of Environment and Territorial Development and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The Landscale project applies to the Sierra de Tapalpa, funded by USAID and promoted by Rainforest Alliance.

“There is a synergy between the participation of speakers, teachers, students, and volunteers and the educational content they generate and take from this kind of events”

The tourism department’s main challenges regarding business events are the transformation of tourism towards sustainability and betting on events that leave a positive social and environmental footprint in the state.

“Moreover, other countries’ incentives exceed the amount of support we can give the organising committees, giving them an advantage over us. Also, with the disappearance of the Consejo de Promoción Turística de México, there is less support for tourism promotion at the international level, less support in crises, and, therefore, less opportunity to position destinations internationally.”

Since 2022 Guadalajara has been a member of the Best Cities Global Alliance, a network of twelve international business events destinations. The agreement extends the alliance into Latin America, expanding its worldwide footprint and furthering its aim of promoting positive impact through business events.

“Joining the Best Cities Global Alliance will allow us to transfer knowledge with partners and clients, maximise profitability in international markets, address market needs, and partner with exceptional brands, among other things.

“As the only city in Latin America to be part of this alliance, we will provide a different vision as we also see a great opportunity in the learning and best practices we can obtain from other members.

“We are also expanding and modernising our two international airports in Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta. Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico is contemplating an investment of 384 million Euro in the Puerto Vallarta airport and 820 million Euro for the Guadalajara airport.

“In 2023, Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico expects passenger traffic in Guadalajara to increase between six and eight per cent and revenues to grow in the range of 12 to 14 per cent.

“In 2026, we look forward to important international events such as the FIFA World Cup. This event put us in the spotlight, motivating us to raise our standards and continue innovating, looking for new things to offer.”