The Mexican tourist sector is confident about the strength of European economies, despite the difficulties some of those countries are going through, the deputy general director of the Mexican Tourist Office told Efe.

In an interview at the IMEX business tourism fair in Frankfurt, Rodolfo Lopez Negrete Coppel said that "Mexico is interested in attracting more business in the convention tourism segment."

"The European markets are very important, the world conventions - the majority of which are based in Europe - are critical for Mexico and we have been able to grow our business in a very important way in the groups and conventions segment," he said.

When asked about the debt crisis in the euro zone, Lopez said that "clearly" that worries his agency.

"After the U.S. and Canada, the European markets have been the most important for Mexico, but we think that the majority of the European economies are very robust, very important markets, although it's true that they are going through a complicated period," he added.

"Inside Europe, the English, Spanish, French, Italian and German markets are the five most important markets for us, but there are others also like the Dutch and (that of) the Nordic countries, which is where we're paying a lot of attention," Lopez said.

He explained that Mexico's tourism office has also paid a great deal of attention to Russia starting two years ago, when it began to invest significant resources in the Russian market with very good results.

The direct economic impact of the convention tourism industry is $18 billion for Mexico.

The tourism sector creates 2.5 million direct jobs and 7 million indirect jobs for Mexico.

Two years ago, Mexico introduced a market diversification strategy - given that the North American market was showing signs of beginning to decelerate - and it began investing significant resources in other markets, particularly in Russia, Brazil and China, Lopez said.

In 2011, Mexico has 200,000 visitors from Brazil, 67 percent more than in 2010.

The number of tourists from Russia visiting Mexico over the past year has increased by 54.6 percent, and Chinese visitors have increased by 30 percent.

The number of tourists visiting Mexico hit a record of 22.7 million last year.

"The increase in the rest of the international markets allowed us to compensate for the deceleration of the North American market and have a record year in the total number of tourists coming to Mexico," Lopez said.

He emphasized at IMEX "the improvement that Mexico has had in terms of infrastructure" over the past 10 years, as well as the progress in visas with legal modifications that allow any citizen who has a North American visa to automatically enter Mexico and accelerates the issuance of visas to people from emerging markets, like China, Brazil and Russia, where those documents are now issued within 48 hours. EFE