Travel Weeklys Mexico E-letter: April 13, 2005

GOOD SHOW: Mexicos 30th annual Tianguis Turistico travel trade show -- said to generate nearly half the countrys business -- kicked off in Acapulco April 10, attracting an estimated 1,100-plus buyers (including 100 new tour operators, wholesalers, meetings planners and travel agents) from 25 countries to meet some 1,300 representatives of 300 Mexican suppliers, 50 of them new participants. Organizers -- who claim Tianguis, held annually in Acapulco since 1976, is the seventh-most-important such event worldwide -- set a goal of booking 19,000 appointments on site during the four-day fair. Personalities in attendance at the show this year, which runs through April 13, included Mexican President Vicente Fox.

A NEW YOU: Mexican tourism got a new look April 10 at Tianguis, when the Mexico Tourism Promotion Council (CPTM) unveiled a new logo developed in a rebranding campaign valued at nearly $100,000. The new MEXICO logo features updated, re-colored typography inlaid with imagery meant to be evocative of Mexicos heritage, diversity and modern tourism draws. The logo was last updated eight years ago.

U.S. VS. THEM: Addressing recent U.S. State Dept. travel advisories regarding Mexico, CPTM director general Francisco Ortiz Ortiz said at Tianguis that the postings -- which caution Americans about visits to the U.S.-Mexico border region and Cancun -- were having little effect on arrivals. Although visits from U.S. states bordering Mexico were down slightly thus far this year, overall American arrivals were up some 12%. The State Dept. has issued warnings about the dangers of kidnappings along the border and extortion by police in Cancun.

INN-SIDE STORY: Several hotel and resort chains made news at Tianguis Turistico 2005, including:
" Pueblo Bonito Hotels & Resorts -- which operates three properties in Cabo San Lucas, two in Mazatlan and one in Puerto Vallarta -- will open a new 154-unit, wellness-oriented luxury property called Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Holistic Retreat and Spa in Cabo San Lucas on April 15. The chain also will break ground on Pueblo Bonito Punta Mita, a 5-star resort near Puerto Vallarta. Call (800) 990-8250 or visit www.pueblobonito.com.
" Hilton Hotels said Mexican franchisees are pumping $170 million into eight properties with 1,100 new rooms and suites under development through year-end 2006 south of the [U.S.] border. Hilton already has 16 properties in Mexico, with 3,645 accommodations units. The new hotels will include one Hilton, two Embassy Suites, two Hilton Garden Inns and three Hampton Inns. For more, see www.hilton.com.

AVENTURAS: Agent-only, Mexico City-based adventure travel specialist Rio y Montana began selling its Mexican active holidays in the U.S. this year. The operator, which offers hiking and biking excursion vacations in the Mexican wilderness and eschews direct bookings, pays travel agents 17% commission on all products. For more, visit www.rioymontana.com or (480) 281-1250.

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