Highlights From the 39th Annual Tianguis Turistico

Travel Agent is just back from Cancun where we attended the 39th annual Tianguis Turistico. The event, which drew 8,000 attendees, including more than 1,500 buyers from 60 countries, ran all last week with a trade show, seminars and parties at various destinations in Cancun and Riviera Maya.

President Enrique Peña Nieto presided over the inaugural event’s festivities, along with other government officials and dignitaries at the property’s recently completed multi-million dollar convention center, Moon Palace Arena.


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As keynote speaker, President Peña Nieto discussed Mexico’s growing tourism industry with attending VIPs, government officials, media and industry leaders. “Mexico has everything to be a tourism power worldwide,” said Peña Nieto. “Tourism is one of the six driving forces of the country and we plan to invest $7.7 trillion pesos into Mexico.” 

According to Peña Nieto, 23.7 million tourists visited Mexico in 2013, and already in 2014 the country is exceeding numbers versus the same time last year. “From January 1 to February 28, Mexico saw 4.5 million tourists, which exceeds numbers from the same time last year,” he says. 

RELATED: Tianguis Turistico Kicks Off at Moon Palace With President Enrique Peña Nieto

tianguis turistico travel agent roundtable

Travel Agent Central's Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero, hosted a presentation and panel at Tianguis entitled U.S. Travel Trends + Opportunity for Mexico Tourism. The panel featured Rodrigo Esponda, the Mexico Tourism Board's acting regional director for North America; Hope Smith, owner of Born to Travel; and Matteo Luthi, general manager and partner of Journey Mexico.

Safety Concerns

This is great news to hear as the United States is finally warming up to the idea of travel to Mexico. For the last few years feelings have chilled toward our neighbor to the south due to rising security concerns. However the word is getting out that safety issues are very far from the tourism destinations and that Mexico is, in fact, safe for travelers.

“People are calling me about Mexico and not asking about security. They are just going,” Hope Smith, owner of Born to Travel, said at a Mexico round table held by Travel Agent. “My business to Mexico City especially has increased. I can’t believe how many people are going.”

“Mexico is our largest growth market,” says Mitch Toren, chief vacation engineer, Trip Guy. “Two years ago Mexico was off the table before you could even pitch it. We see much less resistance now.”

RELATED: Tianguis Roundtable: Industry Execs Confirm Consumers Are Craving Mexico

Hot Destinations

It was just four years ago that five cruise lines pulled out of the destination due to rising safety concerns. Mazatlan, for all intents and purposes, was not a safe city for tourists in Mexico. Today? That is not the case. According to Secretary of Tourism for the state of Sinaloa Francisco Manuel Cordoba Celaya, in the last two years crime has dropped by 90 percent, making Mazatlan one of the safest destinations for tourism. In fact, four out of the five cruise lines have already returned (Azamara Club Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruises and Princess Cruises). For the 2014/15 season these ships will bring 200,000 tourists to Mazatlan. 2013 saw three million tourists to Sinaloa, with 2.5 million visiting Mazatlan.

Over in Los Cabos, luxury continues to rise. Next year Los Cabos is scheduled to open a Thompson Cabo San Lucas with 115 rooms, The Resort at Diamante, which will have 120 units over three phases, the Park Hyatt, with 196 guest rooms and 36 residences, the Ritz-Carlton Reserve, with 124 villas and the JW Marriott, with 300 rooms. 

There are currently 14,000 hotel rooms in Los Cabos and 1,300 are in development. There are also 12 golf courses with two more under construction. 

“I think the market recognizes the quality and services that we have in Los Cabos,” says Ruben Reachi, secretary of tourism for Baja California Sur. “We are working hard to have more flights to Los Cabos and our airlift is growing fast. We have grown almost 11 percent this year versus last year. Last year we grew 14 percent over 2012. If you have the quality of hotels and human resources that we have, our visitors can be our best ambassadors.”

RELATED: Mazatlan Tourism Head Talks Big Changes

Hotel Expansion

AMResorts is gearing up for a big year in 2014 with a slew of new property openings. At the completion of 2014, AMResorts’ portfolio will include 39 resorts in 15 destinations. First up will be the Dreams Sands Cancun, which will open in September with 441 rooms. Following that will be Secrets Playa Mujeres in November with 474 suites. December will be a big month with the opening of Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres, Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya and Breathless Petempica.

Next year's 40th Tianguis Turistico will return to the conference's home in Acapulco.