Travel Weekly's Mexico E-letter: Dec. 8, 2004

WELCOME TO MEXICO: Mexico welcomed more than 15 million foreign visitors during the first three quarters of this year, 10% more than during the same period last year, according to the Mexico Tourism Board. These visitors spent approximately $8 billion on everything from hotels and restaurants to sightseeing and shopping, about 13% more than last year. Another 5.2 million tourists arrived by cruise ship, up 7% compared with a year ago. Tourism is the third most important economic activity in Mexico, representing 8.3% of the nation's gross domestic product. Mexico ranks eighth in the number of international visitors and 10th in international tourism revenue, according to the World Tourism Organization.

COZUMEL is getting more airlift in time for peak season. United will start new nonstop service on Dec. 18 from Chicago, offering three weekly flights through May 3. Delta will launch twice-weekly service on Saturdays and Sundays starting March 5. And Continental will increase its service from Houston to two flights a day beginning Dec. 16. Meanwhile, American said it will extend its Dallas-Cozumel service through Mar. 31. With these new flights, air service to Cozumel, including scheduled and charter flights, will double for the winter season compared with last year.

AMERICAN EAGLE is offering introductory fares from approximately two dozen cities to promote its new nonstop service between Dallas and San Luis Potosi. Fares range from $238 to $338 roundtrip when purchased on the American Airlines/American Eagle Web site, AA.com. The fares are in effect for travel Jan. 5 through Feb. 25, and tickets must be purchased no later than Feb. 5. American Eagle will launch one daily nonstop between Dallas and San Luis Potosi on Jan. 5 aboard 44-seat regional jets.

PARAISO DE LA BONITA RESORT & THALASSO, the 90-suite upscale resort on the Riviera Maya, announced room rates for 2005. Prices will start at $570 a night (April 3 to Oct. 31) and top off at $3,300 a night for the 3,000-square-foot Bali Suite. Starting Jan. 9, rates also will include daily breakfast, as well as 12% tax and 5% service charge. Rates also include private roundtrip airport transfers in a Lincoln Navigator and use of the spa facilities and fitness center. To book, call (800) 745-8883 or visit www.paraisodelabonita.com.

VILLA DEL SOL: The 70-room Villa del Sol in Zihuatanejo received the Conde Nast Johansens Award for "Most Outstanding Hotel in North America" for 2005. The awards are presented to hotels displaying "the finest standards and value for money in luxury independent travel worldwide." The hotel was honored during World Travel Mart in London. Nominations are based on guest surveys and recommendations from hotel inspectors. For information or reservations, call (888) 389-2645 or visit www.hotelvilladelsol.com.

RIVERA MAYA: The Riviera Maya launched a contest on its Web site for a week's vacation with air fare. The online contest includes 10 questions focusing on the Riviera Maya's history and cultural offerings. All questions must be answered correctly to qualify. To find the answers to the questions, click on the "Mayan Culture" tab on the left side of the homepage and read about the history and various cultural activities of the region, then answer the questions. The vacation includes hotel accommodations for seven nights and roundtrip air fare. Entries will be accepted until midnight on Dec. 31. The winner will be selected by Jan. 17 and will be notified by e-mail no later than Jan. 30. The vacation includes three nights at the Cabanas Ana y Jose Hotel & Spa and three nights in Azulik Resort.

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