Mexico and Central America are looking to unite for a multi-destination itinerary. And while the idea is certainly feasible (see: Europe), it might be a while longer before the plan is put into motion.
Last year one of the highlights of the 2017 Tianguis Turistico was the creation of the Mundo Maya experience within Mexico, uniting the southern states where Mayan heritage and culture is most prevalent. However, this year, the message was expanded to not only better reflect the Mayan world, but to also help make Central America a more unified experience. Similar to the way travelers can visit multiple European countries in one trip, Mexico is aiming to unite with Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
The Mundo Maya Organization, made up of the aforementioned five countries, was created with the purpose of coordinating, assisting and stimulating tourism and the cultural and environmental development of the region, as well as recognizing the importance of conserving and maintaining the heritage and common culture of the region.
"Multi-destination tourism is not something new," Yashin Dujon, CEO of the Ministry of Tourism for Belize, said during a panel held at Tianguis Turistico 2018 in Mazatlan. "The cruise industry has done this for many years, earning millions of dollars. I believe that one of the main challenges we have as a region is not to obtain the benefits that we deserve from these entities."
"The concept of multi-destination is a great opportunity because it allows us to present a diverse offering of great wealth, nature and culture that is indeed complementary and that makes us competitive, especially for the high-reach markets, where it is attractive to visit multiple countries," Carolina Cerna, director of international relations of the El Salvador Tourism Ministry, said during the panel.
The Mundo Maya Organization has defined an agenda under four areas: connectivity, infrastructure and signage, travel ease and development of tourism products and promotion and marketing.
Still, there are significant challenges that lie ahead before this can come to fruition. And it will be some time before this plan is actually a real, bookable possibility. For starters, connectivity is limited between air, land and sea. While there is adequate airfare, direct routes need to be created. The Mundo Maya Organization has to work to facilitate border crossings, as well.
"I believe that what has to be ratified is the will to continue to work together; that is the most important thing," said Enrique de la Madrid Cordero, secretary of tourism of Mexico and pro-tempore president of the Mundo Maya Organization. "We begin with the will and the desire, and here we have the will, and so we must all ratify that as sister countries and neighbors we have to work more together, we have to see in the good of other countries, how the good of each one of us is also realized there, and that the best neighborhood is when the neighboring countries are doing better. And one of the tools to make us all better is tourism."