Ignoring gruesome news stories of ongoing drug violence, Mexico for the third consecutive year saw an increase in foreign visitors, government tourism figures out Monday showed.
Some 22.6 million foreigners visited Mexico in 2011, just slightly less than the record 23 million in 2008, the office of Tourism Secretary Gloria Guevara said in a statement.
The figure is two percent higher than 2010, and 5.7 percent higher than 2009, the statement said.
Tourism is Mexico's third most important source of hard currency, after oil exports and remittances by Mexicans living abroad.
Foreign tourists last year also spent more money, on average $158 per day -- a seven percent increase over 2010 figures, which had been the record high.
Mexico's main source of foreign visitors is the United States, which saw a three percent drop in 2011 compared to the previous year.
However there was a seven percent increase in Canadian visitors to 1.7 million, the figures showed.
Mexico saw a 55 percent increase in visitors from Russia; a 13 percent increase from Italy; and a 10 percent increase from France.
Mexico is also the most important tourist destination for Latin Americans, the statement read.