Travel Weekly's Mexico E-letter: Aug. 22, 2007

THE MAJOR TOURIST AREAS of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, Mexico, escaped relatively unscathed from the fury of Hurricane Dean, which made landfall as a Category 5 storm near Costa Maya and Majahual, some 225 miles south of Cancun. Tourists had largely evacuated the three major coastal areas by the time Dean roared ashore before dawn Tuesday, with some 75,000 tourists fleeing by air or to more secure areas inland by car or charter busses, according to the Mexico Tourism Board. Those who couldn't or decided not to get out rode out the storm in their hotels or at the airports. Hotels in Mexico are mostly open for business and reported minimal damage, and airlines are making their return to the affected areas. Resorts in Cancun, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen that did sustain damage reported mostly broken windows and blown sand. Damage to Costa Maya, the Mexican cruise port near the border of Belize where Hurricane Dean made landfall, is still being assessed, said Cesar Lizarraga, Costa Maya's director of sales and marketing. Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste, the Mexican airport group that operates several of the country's top airports, said the Cancun, Cozumel and Merida airports have resumed operations and reported minimal or no damage.

TOURISTS IN MEXICO spent 9.3% more money during the first half of this year compared to the same period a year ago, even though the actual number of visitors was down versus the year-ago period, the Mexico Tourism Board said. Visitors spent $6.87 billion through June on everything from tours to restaurants, versus $6.29 billion in 2006. The number of tourists through June was down 6%, to 47 million. For all of last year, tourist arrivals were down 5.3% compared to 2005. Meanwhile, cruise arrivals were up 14.5% to 3.9 million through June, and cruise passengers also spent 18.6% more through June compared to the same period in 2006.

GRUPO AEROPORTUARIO del PACIFICO, which operates 12 airports throughout Mexico's Pacific region, opened Terminal 2 at the Guadalajara Airport, nearly tripling the airport's final waiting area and adding new shops. The new $4 million terminal is expected to serve approximately 800,000 passengers a year, Grupo Aeroportuario said. Among other things, the new terminal features expanded check-in areas with two additional baggage claim belts, four new gates for a total of six and a new Customs area.

FUNJET VACATIONS teamed up with Karisma Resorts in the Riviera Maya to offer customers such things as free room upgrades and resort credits. The promotion is valid for bookings made through Aug. 31 for travel through Dec. 23. For example, customers staying at El Dorado Seaside Suites or El Dorado Royale will receive a free room upgrade, with hotel-only prices starting at $539 per person, double, for three nights at El Dorado Seaside Suites, and $549 at El Dorado Royale. Meanwhile, customers booking the Azul Beach Hotel will receive a $50 resort credit for a three- to five-night stay and $100 for stays of six nights or longer. Prices start at $529 for three nights. For information or reservations, call (800) 558-3050 or visit www.vaxvacationaccess.com.

MEXICANA de AVIACION launched Mexicanavacationpackages.com, a site for booking vacation packages using Mexicana Airlines exclusively. The site is operated by World Wide Travel Exchange (WWTE), a private-label booking engine. The site enables customers to book tours, airline/hotel packages, ground transportation and excursions. In addition to Mexico, packages and airline fares are available to Central and South America from Mexicana gateways in the U.S. and Canada.

Mexico E-Letter Editor: Jorge Sidron

Phone: (973) 898-0011

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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