Special report from Tianguis 2012

By Bob Schulman

More than 7,500 delegates attended Tianguis 2012.Puerto Vallarta – Major new attractions aimed at boosting travel to Mexico,   progress being made in developing new beach resorts, the “revitalization” of Acapulco and a number of new hotel openings were among highlights of presentations and news briefings at the recent Tianguis 2012, the country's annual travel trade show.

The show, hosted for the first time by Puerto Vallarta and the neighboring Riviera Nayarit, this year was attended by more than 7,500 delegates, mainly “suppliers” (representing Mexican resort areas, individual hotels, airlines and ground operators) who came to cut deals with “buyers” (mostly wholesalers who put air and ground packages together for sale to the public through travel agencies).

At a special function, Mexico President Felipe Calderon cut the ribbon to open  AMResorts' newest upscale hotels south of the border: the 331-room Now Amber Puerto Vallarta and its adjacent sister property the 271-room Secrets  Vallarta Bay.

Among top newsmakers at Tianguis, officials of the Los Cabos resort gave a report on their preparations for the June 2012 “G20” economic summit expected to draw more than 7,000 attendees from around the world. Spotlighted in the G2 project – for which the Mexican government is spending more than $47 million on development and promotion – will be Los Cabos' new 653,000-square-foot convention center.

In a related project at Los Cabos, a spokesman said the government is additionally spending $250 million on a new four-lane highway stretching for some 120 miles along the Sea of Cortes from the tip of the Baja Peninsula at Cabo San Lucas to La Paz. When finished, the highway is expected to cut the driving time between the two cities in half.

President Calderon inaugurated AMResorts' Now Amber Puerto Vallara.             Photo by Bob Schulman.

At another briefing, tourism experts unveiled a campaign “to recapture the timeless glamor of Acapulco.” Called “Remember Acapulco,” the project will incorporate elements of an earlier program called “Safe Acapulco” while introducing a new combination of promotional efforts involving public relations, digital communications, social media and on-the-ground activities. Kicking off the program's launch will be a new English language website, rememberacapulco.com.

Visitors to Mazatlan will be happy to find out there's a new “fun” way to get around town, according to Mazatlan Hotel Association Vice President Carlos Berdegue. He said the resort recently introduced a fleet of five double-deck “Fun Buses” seating 52 to 78 riders. The brightly painted buses pick up individual passengers on morning and afternoon runs – fares are around $2 or $3 – and can also be chartered by convention and meeting groups.Tourism Secretary Gloria Guevara reviews marketing programs.

Berdegue also noted that Brazilian dancers will visit Mazatlan this year to help local planners give the city's annual Mardi Gras carnival – the third largest in the world after Rio and New Orleans – “a touch of Brazil.”

In another announcement, a spokesman said construction is set to get underway again on the partially built Playa Campeche resort on the beaches of Campeche on the Gulf of Mexico. Now known as Aak Baal, the project (earlier valued at $800 million by the previous developer) will initially offer some 800 rooms, marking the state's first large-scale resort property.

You'll soon be able to get more information on just about any travel-related destination or service in Mexico, thanks to a new online “atlas” planned to debut this spring. Secretary Guevara said the atlas will cover the country's 85 major tourism destinations, 13,617 hotels, 198,538 restaurants, 117 museums, 184 archaeological sites, 70 airports and much more. A link to the atlas will be posted on the Mexico Tourism Board's website, visitmexico.com.One of Mazatlan's new “Fun Buses.” Photo: Mazatlan Hotel Assoc.

About Tianguis: The word means marketplace in the ancient language of the Aztecs. Following 36 years of staging the annual travel meeting in Acapulco, the Mexican government opted to hold future events at different cities in the country. Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit submitted the winning bid for the 2012 meeting. It will be held in 2013 outside Mexico City at Puebla, and in 2014 on the Yucatan Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo.


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