Businesses in Tucson are preparing to attract Mexican visitors during the Christmas shopping season.

"The Mexican visitor is a very important part of our economy, especially for cities near the border like Tucson," Felipe Garcia, executive vice president of the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau, told Efe

Mexican visitors spend more than $3 billion a year in Arizona, according to researchers from the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management.

"That market is important to us, which is why we're constantly thinking up ways to make their visit more enjoyable while giving businesses tips about their culture and what they need," Garcia said.

As the holidays draw near, crowds are growing of Mexican tourists who don't just shop in the malls but also stay in hotels and dine out at the restaurants.

Garcia says the number of Mexican visitors who cross the border to do their shopping could increase significantly beginning next year.

Starting Jan. 1, sales tax along the border inside Mexico will increase 11 percent to the nationwide rate of 17 percent.

That change is expected to boost the number of Mexican visitors crossing the border looking for offers and discounts on electric appliances, designer clothes, jewelry, computers, videogames and more.

"Over the past year, the number of Mexican visitors crossing the border to Arizona increased 12 percent," Garcia said.

"Not only small businesses have realized the importance of the market of Mexican visitors - so have the big corporations," he said. 

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