Travel Weeklys Mexico E-letter: March 2, 2005

ARRIBA: Tourism to Mexico grew 10.5%, to 20.6 million visitors, last year compared to 2003, according to Mexican tourism ministry Sectur, while related revenues hit an historic high of $10.8 billion, up 14.6% over the year before. In addition, visitor spending grew 4.4%, the tourism industrys trade balance was 21.1% higher, airplane arrivals jumped 15.2%, and 15% more cruise ship passengers docked in Mexican ports. Tourism is expected to account of 8.2% of Mexicos economy in 2005. For more information, go to www.visitmexico.com.

ONLINE MEET-&-GREET: The Mexico Tourism Board launched Meetings On-line, a new, password-protected service within the Meeting and Conventions section of its www.visitmexico.com Web site, to facilitate dealings between international meetings planners and Mexican hotels, convention centers and other suppliers. Registered supplier and buyer users can review available product online and then both submit proposals and conclude contracts via e-mail. Other features include client and supplier database creation; lists of venues, providers and promotions; searches by state, city, number of rooms, space requirements, and other vectors; analysis of up to eight offers at once; on-line proposal forms and an archive of previously submitted proposals.

ESKIMO FLY: Alaska Airlines applied to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation for authority to begin twice-daily, nonstop service between Los Angeles and Mexico City -- with continuing service to and from Seattle and Portland, Ore. -- as early as May 1. Alaska has sought Mexico City flights for 14 years, but bilateral air accords only allow for two U.S. carriers at a time to service the Mexican capital. But Delta Air Lines ended its service in January, opening a slot for another U.S. carrier to join United Airlines there. A DOT decision is expected in early spring.

HOLA, LORETO: And in related news, Alaska Airlines on Feb. 17 launched twice-weekly nonstop service between L.A. and Loreto, Mexico, its eighth destination in that country. As of this month, the route is flown on 144-seat Boeing 737-400 aircraft, with leather seats. Flights depart LAX Thursdays and Sundays at 11:10 a.m. PST and arrive at Loreto at 1:59 p.m. MST; return flights depart Loreto at 4 p.m. MST, and arrive in Los Angeles at 4:55 p.m. PST. For more information, visit www.alaskaair.com.

OOPS: The Mexico Travel Marketplace road show being held across the U.S. through May 12 is partly sponsored by several Mexican suppliers and localities, including Vallarta-Nayarit, incorrectly identified as Vallarta in the Feb. 23 edition of the Mexico E-letter. Vallarta-Nayarit is the brand name of the Mexican municipality of Bahia de Banderas, which includes tourist areas Jarrataderas, Nuevo Vallarta, Falmingos, Bucerias, La Cruz, Punta Mita, Sayulita, San Pancho and Lo de Marcos. The name was developed by the hotel association and government of the state of Nayarit to distinguish the destination from Puerto Vallarta, just to the south, according to local officials. For more information, visit www.vallarta-mexico.com.

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