Travel Weekly's Mexico E-Letter May 14, 2003

THE CANCUN CONVENTION & Visitors Bureau launched a $1.5 million tourism marketing campaign aimed at drawing visitors during the off-peak summer months. The campaign, which includes TV and print ads, uses the taglines "Break Away to Cancun" and "Right Around the Corner" to reinforce the proximity and ease of travel to the Mexican Caribbean destination, according to the bureau. "At a time when Americans are choosing to stay closer to home and are cautious about planning trips far in advance, traveling to Cancun provides the ideal mix of foreign and exotic without the hassles of traveling across the globe," said Miguel Borge Martin, the bureau's executive director. "Travelers should also take advantage of the fact that numerous hotels, resorts and restaurants throughout Cancun are now featuring discount packages to lure budget travelers this summer." The campaign includes commercials on CNN, newspaper ads in Cancun's major feeder markets and radio spots. Cancun will also be "front and center" during the Mexican Tourism Board's summer trade shows in New York, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles, according to the bureau.

HOPING TO PUMP UP a few of AeroMexico's routes, AeroMexico Vacations introduced a Royalty Roll Out promotion, offering a complimentary upgrade from coach to Clase Premier and a hotel room upgrade, both based on availability. The promotion applies to select nonstop flights booked by June 27 for travel through Sept. 30. Qualifying routes include San Diego to Los Cabos and Loreto; Ontario, Calif., to Los Cabos; Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta; and Atlanta to Cancun. Customers who fly Clase Premier will have access to AeroMexico's first-class airport lounges. Participating hotels are the Viva Azteca, Beach Palace, Cancun Palace, Sun Palace, Calinda Beach & Spa, Park Royal Piramides and El Dorado Royale, all in Cancun; the Grand & Club Marival, Westin Regina, Camino Real Puerto Vallarta Solare, Melia Puerto Vallarta, Paradise Village and Crown Paradise, all in Puerto Vallarta; the Hacienda Suites in Loreto; and the Royal Solaris, Hotel Finisterra, Melia Cabo Real and Melia San Lucas, all in Los Cabos. Prices start at $459 per person, double, from Atlanta to Cancun; $489 from San Diego to Los Cabos; and $494 from Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta. AeroMexico Vacations can be purchased through the major GDSs, through VAX VacationAccess (at www.vaxvacationaccess.com) or by calling (800) 245-8585.

THE MEXICAN RIVIERA will get an unexpected visitor this fall: Princess Cruises. Due to the drop in demand for its fall Asia itineraries because of SARS, the line said it will instead offer a series of roundtrip sailings from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera on the Star Princess this fall. The new Mexico season, which follows the ship's summer Alaska program, will feature five, seven-day roundtrip sailings calling at Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. The Star Princess will then sail a new, 24-day Hawaii/Tahiti/South Pacific cruise from Los Angeles to Sydney. There, the ship will continue its scheduled series of six South Pacific cruises, sailing between Sydney, Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand. The new seven-day Mexican Riviera sailings will begin Sept. 27, with the five Saturday departures continuing until Nov. 1. Fares for the Mexico sailings begin at $1,149 per person. For information or reservations, call (800) PRINCESS or visit the company's Web site at www.princess.com.

IT DOESN'T GET MUCH BETTER THAN FREE, unless it's "Free, Free, Free." That's the name of a promotion from US Airways Vacations, which is giving away free nights at hotels, free tours and free luggage to clients who book select Mexico, Caribbean and South America air/hotel packages of five nights or longer through June 20 for travel through Nov. 12. Customers who book a minimum five-night package will receive one free night at a participating hotel, one free tour and a free three-piece set of Samsonite luggage (worth $339). The Samsonite luggage is available when travelers use their MasterCard to pay for the trip. Meanwhile, travel agents will earn up to 16% commission on the "Free, Free, Free" promotion when packages are booked by May 31. Agents earn 16% for bookings made via VAX VacationAccess (www.vaxvacationaccess.com) and 15% pay when booking through their GDS. Call center bookings, made via (800) 455-0123, earn 10% commission.

OCCIDENTAL HOTELS & RESORTS launched a number of travel agent incentives, ranging from increased commission to the opportunity to win a Mercedes convertible. Occidental is paying 15% commission on most bookings across the brand. In addition, the agent who makes the most bookings across all Occidental properties through April 30, 2004, will win a Mercedes SLK 30 convertible, which carries a $40,000 price tag. Meanwhile, the agent who racks up the most bookings for Occidental's Mexico properties by Aug. 31, for travel through Dec. 20, will receive a $5,000 bonus. For information or reservations, call (800) 858-2258 or visit the Web at www.occidentalhotels.com.

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