ACAPULCO, Mexico -- Mexico's tourism industry was in focus at
Tianguis Turistico, the country's largest travel trade convention,
Dozens of suppliers were represented at the event, which was
sponsored by the Mexican government, the Mexico Tourism Board and
private tourism concerns.
The following is a roundup of news from the show:
• The Mexican Congress announced it will eliminate all sales tax
on international conventions held in Mexico, effective January
The new law reforms the Value Added Tax (VAT) law imposing a 15%
sales tax on international meetings and conventions held in the
• The Mexico Tourism Board and National Tourism Business Council
(known by the Spanish acronym CNET) launched Tianguis Online, the
first online platform for buyers and sellers in Mexico's tourism
The online forum will be of particular use to small and midsize
businesses that ordinarily do not have access to such technology,
according to a spokesman.
The multilingual site will feature information about Tianguis
exhibitors and participants as well as a chat function and an
internal messaging system that will inform registrants about the
latest news and developments.
"Tianguis Online completes in a real way the Acapulco Tianguis
fair," said Maria Elena Mancha, general director of the Mexico
Tourism Board, "so that those not in attendance during the event
will be present 24/7, 365 days a year."
The multilingual site will be accessible through www.visitmexico.com in May.
• Additional upgrades are under way to the city infrastructure
in Puerto Vallarta, according to Santiago Gutierrez, who was named
president of the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board in February.
Among recent changes are new handicapped-accessible ramps in
many of the public sidewalks and a new pedestrian bridge over the
Rio Cuale, which will expand opportunities to stroll along the
waterfront as far as Los Muertos beach.
The destination is seeking funding for even more growth as part
of a 25-year development program that would expand the existing
airport and build a convention center near Marina Vallarta.
Other news from Puerto Vallarta includes a major renovation at
the Sheraton, which is due to reopen fully in June.
• Expo Adventura y Ecoturismo, an adventure travel and
ecotourism conference, is slated to take place in Mexico City June
5 to 7.
Last year's event attracted nearly 200 exhibitors and more than
9,000 attendees, including wholesale and retail travel
• Seatrade released conference program details for Seatrade
Cruise Mexico, the first such cruise conference in Mexico. It is
scheduled for April 27 to 30 at the Fairmont Acapulco Princess
Topics of the conference will include itinerary options, ports
of call and shore excursions and cruise terminal development. Scott
Koepf, president of Ultimate Seminars, will lead a travel agent
• John McCarthy, managing director of the National Trust for
Tourism Development, said a 25-year plan is being developed to
diversify and improve tourism prospects in Acapulco, along the
lines of what has been done in Miami Beach and downtown Las
The program, which involves urban development and training for
travel service providers, is expected to cost $150 million. It
still is in the planning stages.
• Hotel occupancy in Isla Cozumel in the Mexican Carib-bean is
up 15% from 2002, according to tourism officials.
"We feel the increase is due, in part, to U.S. travelers'
interest in seeking a tranquil, tropical island vacation while
remaining close to home," said Gaston Cantarell Diaz, president of
the Isla Cozumel Hotel Association.
• InterContinental Hotels Group, the new name for Six
Continents, will open 11 hotels in Mexico before the end of 2004,
bringing the total number of the company's hotels in the country to
The new openings will include properties in the Holiday Inn,
Holiday Inn Express and Crowne Plaza brands. Locations will be in
Tlalnepantla, Cuernavaca, Orizaba, Puebla, Salina Cruz,
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Irapuato, Merida, Villahermosa, Mexico City and
• Grupo Posadas will open 20 hotels in Mexico over the next two
years, according to a company spokesman. Most will be targeted
toward business travelers, with 10 flying the Fiesta Inn flag and
two branded as Fiesta Americana. Destinations include Ciudad del
Carmen, Orizaba, Celaya, Queretaro and Culiacan.
• Avalon Resorts converted five of its seven properties to an
all-inclusive format in January. The company also has introduced a
brand with the Avalon Excalibur in Acapulco.
The new brand will be applied to larger properties that are
business- and convention-oriented, according to David Schwartz,
director of sales.
He said the company will introduce the Excalibur brand in Cancun
• Pueblo Bonito Hotels & Resorts completed phase two of its
construction program at the Pueblo Bonito at Sunset Beach in Los
The completion of the second phase adds 107 suites to the
inventory, for a total of 225, as well as a second pool. Work
continues on the rest of the 519 suites.
The company plans to open the Pueblo Bonito Pacifica, an
adjacent property with 180 rooms and 20 one-bedroom suites, in
• Camino Real Hotels & Resorts completed renovations at its
Mexico City and Guadalajara properties. The company also opened the
first property under its new Ejecutivo brand -- the Camino Real
Ejecutivo Perinorte, in an industrial suburb north of Mexico City
-- in January.
In addition, the company is planning to renovate at the Camino
Real Cancun and already is upgrading the Camino Real Acapulco
Diamante. The company recently opened a corporate sales office in
• Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide opened the Sheraton
Centro Historico Hotel & Convention Center in Mexico City at
the end of February.
The company will open its first W Hotel in Latin America this
summer when the W Mexico City debuts in the city's Polanco
• By August, Mexicana Airlines will have replaced all of its
Boeing 727 aircraft with Airbus A319 and A320 planes.
The airline also announced new code-share service with Copa
Airlines of Panama as well as new flights from San Antonio and
• Aeromexico will introduce service from Ontario, Calif., to Los
Cabos, starting July 7. The airline also is adding a second daily
flight between Chicago and Mexico City, starting July 1.
In addition, the carrier is introducing 15 Boeing 737-700
aircraft with winglets, beginning in October. The carrier is also
introducing in-flight menus in Clase Premier.
• Aviacsa said it will introduce daily 737 service between
Chicago's O'Hare and Monterrey, effective April 6.