MEXICO CITY -- Agents are used to sending clients on business trips
to Mexico City.
But to date, U.S. travel agents have given less thought to
suggesting Mexico City as a leisure destination. In fact, many
agents on TWA's recent inaugural flight between St. Louis and
Mexico City readily admitted that Mexico City as a leisure
destination had never been a consideration for them.
One day and night in the capital city went a long way toward
changing that mind-set. "When my manager asked if I wanted to go to
Mexico City, I wondered what there was to see," said Midge Stephan
of Custom Travel Service in Crestwood, Mo. "I thought, 'Why would
people travel there?' "
A tour of the Dolores Olmedo Patino Museum, a leisurely float
through the canals of Xochimilco followed by a walk in the region's
ecological park, a drive past the city's historic buildings and,
finally, a guided tour through San Ildefonso College did the
"Now," Stephan said, "I would encourage clients to come to
Mexico City for a leisure one- to three-night stay. This seems like
a good place to stop en route to another destination. There's far
more history and culture here than I had expected to find."
So what about the crime issue? Certainly, it seems to be an
overriding concern with Mexican officials and the media. On the day
of the TWA inaugural flight, a New York Times headline stated "New
Questions on Safety in Mexico Are Raised."
But agent concerns about crime didn't seem to be intense. "I
need to know what there is to do in Mexico City," said Marcia
Atchison of World Wide Travel in Topeka, Kan. "I have to learn more
about what this city has to offer in the way of attractions and
culture. I also need to know if a tourist can get around here
alone, or would that person be better off in a group," she
"Mexico City is definitely not for the budget tourist. But
clients [willing to spend a little extra] -- retired people, for
example -- could hire a driver."
Atchison said she believes the more seasoned traveler who wants
something different would enjoy the attractions of Mexico City.
Right now, when Americans think Mexico, they think beach," she
said. But eventually, they'll get tired of the beach."
Agents talked about the language differences, the huge size of
the city, air pollution and the conservative nature of their
Midwestern clients. "I have no problem sending clients to Cancun,
but I need to know more about Mexico City before making
recommendations to come here," said Mark Sikes of Jet America
Travel Network in St. Louis Park, Minn. "Regarding crime," he
added, "if you leave your brain at home, there is a good chance of
becoming a crime victim wherever you go."