Tourism development plans revealed


Flying For Less

A quick-reference guide to some of Mexico's newest low-fare airlines:



Hub: Puebla

Aircraft: Boeing 737-500

Phone: (866) 370-4065;
(011) 52-553 004-0000

Click Mexicana

Hub: Mexico City

Aircraft: Fokker F-100

Phone: (011) 52-5 322-6262


Hub: Toluca

Aircraft: Airbus A320

Phone: (011) 52-1 102-5555

Nova Air

Hub: Mexico City

Aircraft: Boeing 737-200

Phone: (011) 52-5 536-7562

Republica Air

Hub: Toluca

Aircraft: Boeing 737-200

Phone: (011) 52-5 203-8090

Viva Aerobus

(To launch September 2006)


Hub: Toluca

Aircraft: Airbus A319

Phone: (011) 52-1102-8000

ACAPULCO, Mexico -- The Mexican Caribbean's recovery from Hurricane Wilma was, predictably, a major topic for discussion at the recent Tianguis Turistico travel trade show and tourism conference here.

But the growth of low-fare airlines in the domestic market and plans for regional tourism development were also popular themes at Mexico's 31st annual tourism conference.

About 450 exhibitors and 1,000 buyers attended this year's Tianguis, according to organizers, including about 150 international buyers from 60 countries.

John McCarthy, general director of Fonatur, Mexico's national trust for tourism promotion, predicted that 32.5 million tourists would visit the country annually by 2025. And if McCarthy and Fonatur have their way, there will be more places for tourists to visit, as the organization continues to increase the scope of its projects.

"In 2001, Fonatur was in 12 states; now, we are in 26," McCarthy told attendees.

McCarthy outlined broad plans for tourism development to be completed by 2025 at five destinations: Cancun, Ixtapa, Huatulco, Loreto and Los Cabos.

A $5.1 million investment in the five destinations will result in three new marinas, seven new golf courses, 10,000 new hotel rooms and five commercial centers, among other facilities and attractions.

As in past years, McCarthy also gave Tianguis delegates details about a project in the Sea of Cortes that will ultimately result in 29 small-port stops.

Eleven such facilities are slated for construction this year, and the plan includes the development of 22 proposed tourism zones in the region.

The state of Nayarit, on the Pacific coast, is also slated for Fonatur-backed growth, with a projected 10,000 hotel rooms slated for the destination by 2025.

Air wars

The recent boom in low-cost domestic Mexican carriers was the topic of a standing-room-only forum at Tianguis.

"We realized there was a market niche that we could take advantage of," said Miguel Aleman, CEO of Interjet, which launched service in December from its hub in Toluca, near Mexico City.

Interjet is one of five low-fare carriers that started service within the past year; Click Mexicana, a division of Mexicana Airlines, was the first to take off, last July.

In an effort to avoid the congestion at Mexico City Airport, three of the new low-cost carriers are based at Toluca Airport, which is about 40 minutes from Mexico City.

Toluca Airport is in the process of a renovation and expansion to accommodate additional flights. The expansion is due to be completed this year (see story, Page 30). To make the new hub more appealing to travelers, new airline Volaris, which has San Salvador-based Grupo Taca among its backers, offers a free shuttle service from the airport to Mexico City's Santa Fe business district.

Online sales are a big part of each new airline's marketing effort, but Enrique Beltranena, Volaris' director general, said his company also works with travel agencies and wholesalers.

And while the Mexican domestic market is the primary target for these new carriers, Avolar, which launched service in September from Tijuana, also wants to tap into the Hispanic market in U.S. states near the Mexican border.

Aleman told attendees that one of Interjet's goals is to increase the percentage of domestic travelers who travel by plane, which he said is currently just 6.5% of the Mexican population.

To contact reporter Mark Chesnut, send e-mail [email protected].


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