While headlines might be focused on Mexican cross-border traffic, very little has been made of the fact that 35 million US citizens visit their neighbours in Mexico for their vacations every year.

The beachy expanses of Puerto Vallarta and the Yucatan are holiday favourites for American tourists.

As issues surrounding Mexican border security have led to the longest government shutdown in US history – one airline has taken a creative approach to highlight the more positive aspects of cross-border travel.

Cross-border relations. Illustration / AeroMexico
Cross-border relations. Illustration / AeroMexico

Aeromexico, the country's national carrier, has created a special "DNA Discount" programme to encourage more Americans to consider a vacation "south of the border".


By offering American air passengers proportionate discounts if they can prove Mexican ancestry, the airline hopes to improve the country's image as a potential holiday option.

While it remains a popular destination, it seems that not everyone is open to the idea.
The southern states of Texas, Utah and Arizona – in spite of their proximity to the border - are the least likely to consider a holiday in Mexico.

The campaign, which was produced by Aeromexico with advertising agency Ogilvy, shows that in spite of shared cultural interests (such as burritos and tequila) Americans in southern states have little interest in venturing south.

"Let me stay here in peace, and let those folks stay on their side of the border," says one interviewee.

Fortunately many are willing to take a gamble on a DNA test with the promise of a discounted holiday.

Do you like Tequila? Photo / AeroMexico
Do you like Tequila? Photo / AeroMexico

With cheap and available ancestry testing kits, the airline was able to offer money off flights by percentage of a passenger's Mexican DNA.

Some were dismayed, others delighted at being told of their results.

One cantankerous participant challenges the findings calling "bullshit!" on the results of his 22 per cent Mexican heritage – though his attitude changes towards the results when he discovers newfound ancestry will get him 22 per cent off flights.


"What if I want to take my wife?" he asks, planning his trip.

"I love discounts," says another participant when asked what she thinks of her new found Mexican heritage.

In spite of initial hostility towards the idea of a Mexican vacation, 54.4 per cent of those tested had Mexican heritage.

The Inner Discounts campaign and commercial is aimed at the south-western states of Utah and Arizona.

Wharton, Texas: Let me stay here in peace. Photo / AeroMexico
Wharton, Texas: Let me stay here in peace. Photo / AeroMexico

Filmed in Wharton, Texas, the initial opinions of those residents interviewed is even more surprising, considering the Mexican-US border is just over 400 km away.

More than simply wanting to encourage travel to Mexico, the politically charged video comes during the government lockdown over the proposed border wall between the two countries and questions of the future of the "Dreamers" – the 787,580 predominantly Mexican and Guatemalan child migrants who arrived in the US before the age of 16.

"DNA Discounts" is not the first time Aeromexico has used an advertisement to address cross-border politics.

In 2016, the airline used the same advertising agency to produce a TV spot called Fronteras – Spanish for "Borders" – which showed children separated at chain link fences.