A total of 15.2 million foreign tourists visited Mexico during the first eight months of this year, a figure that was up 1.8 percent compared to the same period in 2010, the Tourism Secretariat said.

Border tourism rose 9.4 percent during the period, compared to the first eight months of 2010, the secretariat said.

A total of 6.6 million visitors arrived in northern Mexico during the January-August period and spent $369 million, a figure that was up 1.7 percent from the first eight months of 2010.

Hotel occupancy in Mexico's 70 largest cities and beach resorts rose 3.2 percent in the January-August period, compared to the same period last year, the secretariat said.

A total of 115.2 million domestic tourists were registered during the period, a figure that was 5.4 percent higher than in the first eight months of 2010.

Average spending by foreign travelers rose 4.3 percent during the period, while visitors from cruise ships spent 4.9 percent more, the Bank of Mexico said.

Mexico is celebrating the "Year of Tourism" in 2011 in an effort to promote the industry and counteract negative publicity from the war on drugs.

The tourism industry is one of the main sources of foreign exchange for Mexico and a generator of both direct and indirect jobs.

A total of 22.4 million foreign tourists visited Mexico in 2010, with most of them going to Mexico City, the Riviera Maya and the Caribbean resort city of Cancun.