Cancun launches $2.2M marketing campaign

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CANCUN -- Mexico's top beach resort aims to enhance its image as a multifaceted destination with a newly launched U.S. marketing campaign.

The Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau is spearheading the $2.2 million initiative, the main elements of which are Cancun University, an education program for travel agents; a new logo and slogan for the destination; a fresh advertising campaign; a toll-free destination line, and an internet site.

Cancun"We want to become much more aggressive in marketing to the U.S., which represents 71% of our visitor arrivals," said Jose Gonzalez Zapata, president of the Cancun CVB.

According to Zapata, the long-term campaign will focus on positioning Cancun as an ideal beach resort that also offers a wealth of archaeological, ecological and adventurous options.

"We are promoting Cancun as a multifaceted destination that has nice beaches with clear water, good hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, Mayan culture and natural attractions," Zapata said.

Activities such as exploring the archaeological ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza are being highlighted, as well as adventurous options, including visiting the interior of the jungle, horseback riding, cave diving and swimming in underground rivers, according to Zapata.

Much of the campaign's efforts will focus on the many new options the destination offers, he added.

Among the offerings scheduled to be unveiled are additional hotels such as Le Meridien Cancun, a 218-room property scheduled to open in October, and Royal Sands, which is set to be completed next year.

Moon Palace resort also is expanding with additional guest rooms, scheduled to be finished by December, he said.

On the attractions side, Xpuha, an ecological park, is under construction and expected to debut by December. Zapata said with areas of beaches, wildlife and a variety of flora, Xpuha will be similar in its offerings to Xcaret, which features swimming and snorkeling in coves and inlets, dolphins and Mayan ruins.

Xpuha will be located roughly 50 miles south of Cancun on the Riviera Maya.

Zapata also said Cancun is home to new restaurants and shopping malls.

Under the marketing program, a logo and slogan was created -- "Cancun: The Magic Word" -- which is being used in an advertising campaign that includes radio spots and print ads in consumer and trade publications.

The advertising campaign is scheduled to run for one year.

Zapata said the Cancun CVB mainly is targeting the U.S. markets of New York (and the East Coast) and Chicago as well as cities in Florida, Texas and California. Aside from the advertising effort, the CVB set up a toll-free line -- (800) CANCUN-8 -- for agents and consumers wishing to receive information on Cancun.

Cancun's Internet site, to be located at www.gocancun.com, is expected to be up and running within four to six weeks, Zapata said. The site will augment Cancun's existing presence on the Net, which consists of a page on the Mexico Ministry of Tourism's site, located at www.mexico-travel.com.

Zapata said the CVB is optimistic that the increased efforts to spotlight Cancun will result in even more U.S. visitor traffic.

In 1997, approximately 2.7 million visitors came to Cancun. Zapata said the CVB is projecting an increase of 8% in visitor arrivals for 1998.

Aside from a cooperative presence at trade shows, the Cancun CVB's marketing push will not include the new tourist zones of the Riviera Maya and Costa Maya south of Cancun, or Cozumel, all of which are creating separate campaigns, Zapata added.

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