Travel Weeklys Mexico E-letter: Aug. 18, 2004

THE MEXICO TOURISM BOARD kicked off an $8.2 million TV, print and Internet advertising campaign Aug. 16 targeting U.S. and Canadian travelers. The new campaign replaces the previous "Closer than Ever" campaign, which focused on Mexicos geographical proximity in the aftermath of 9/11. Ads for the non-Hispanic market will use the theme, "Mexico, Beyond Your Expectations," while a second set of ads directed at the U.S. Hispanic audience will use the tagline, "Regresa a Mexico de la mejor manera: de vacaciones" ("Come back to Mexico the best way possible ... on vacation"). The "Beyond Your Expectations" commercials will air on cable channels in important feeder markets like Atlanta; Denver; Los Angeles; Miami; New York; San Francisco; and Sacramento and San Jose, Calif. In a departure from past Mexico Tourism Board campaigns, four distinct ads also will air on Hispanic TV outlets. These ads are not translations or adaptations of ads designed for the general U.S. and Canada market but instead were conceived separately from the start. Print ads will appear in magazines such as Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, and Travel + Leisure, while Internet marketing will include banner ads on Web portals and Internet booking sites like AOL, Yahoo!, Expedia, and Travelocity.

FOREIGN VISITORS to Mexico spent $5.55 billion in the country during the first six months of the year, or 14.1% more than in the same period in 2003, Mexicos Tourism Board said. The board also said that Mexico received 10.2 million foreign tourists, up 11.1% compared with the same six-month period in 2003. Visits by cruise passengers also is on the rise, with about 3.7 million cruise passengers visiting Mexico during the first six months of 2004. Investment in Mexicos tourism infrastructure is up, with the country receiving close to $2 billion so far this year in investments for 180 tourism-related projects ranging from hotels to golf courses.

MEANWHILE, HOTELS IN CANCUN, Mexicos top beach resort for U.S. travelers, are operating at nearly 97% occupancy, with some 700,000 domestic and international tourists expected to fill rooms during July and August alone, the Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau reported. Cancun has 27,000 hotel rooms. Miguel Borge Martin, director of the CVB, said Cancun is having its strongest summer tourist season in 10 years. During the first half of the year, hotel occupancy rates were up 10% compared with the same period in 2003. The CVB director said last months resignation of the City Council and ouster of the mayor in the larger municipality of Benito Juarez has not affected tourism. In response to violent demonstrations following the political turmoil, the U.S. State Department issued a public announcement urging Americans to avoid crowds and use caution in Cancun, especially around the Plaza de la Reforma and City Hall. Most visitors to Cancun stay in the so-called Hotel Zone, which is several miles from downtown and has not experienced protests.

BRISAS HOTELS AND RESORTS, which operates six upscale resorts throughout Mexico, launched a Hold the Rate program for group and incentive customers. Under the program, the hotel company will guarantee the same rate to any group that returns to the same Brisas hotel for another event with three years of the original stay. Brisas Mexico properties are: Las Brisas Acapulco, Las Brisas Ixtapa, Galeria Plaza in Mexico City, Hacienda Jurica in Queretaro, Las Hadas Golf Resort & Marina in Manzanillo and Las Brisas Huatulco. For group bookings, call (866) RELAX-MX or (305) 446-8900.

PLEASANT HOLIDAYS launched a "50% Off Sale" for travel between Aug. 23 and Sept. 30 that includes a 50% discount on a companion air fare to Cancun from Los Angeles. The discounted air fare is available when two people travel on the same itinerary and is valid only on Pleasants air-inclusive packages with roundtrip air fare on ATA Airlines. For information or to book, call (800) 448-3333 or visit PleasantAgent.com.

MEXICO CITYS ancient archeological site, Templo Mayor, will be closed to visitors during renovations scheduled from Aug. 24 to Sept. 28. The sites museum will remain open. For more information, visit www.conaculta.gob.mx.

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