All week we're running a special report on what agents can expect from the travel industry in 2015. Here's our look at the industry as a whole, and here is a series of tips on how to be proactive with clients heading into the New Year.
Mexico is topping the travel charts for this coming season, says Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch, citing that 54 percent of U.S. international travel is to Mexico and Canada. The demand to Mexico has increased year-over-year at 15 percent. “The rebound in Mexico tourism has been unbelievable, and it is the best value you can find right now,” he says.
For U.S. travelers, Latin America and Mexico are trending on the 50 Most Popular International Cities for Americans’ list and is likely to continue its heightened popularity through the rest of the year and into 2015. Many Latin American and Mexican cities are experiencing considerable developments in their hospitality sectors.
During the first half of 2014, Mexico City (#16) and Cancun (#20) ascended four spots, while Panama City (#35) and Bogota (#38) each boosted their popularity ranking by four positions. This year also marks the debut of Lima (#44) on the list of 50 Most Popular International Cities for Americans.
This is the first time since 2012 that Puerto Vallarta (#42) has made the list. As the tourist board’s “Live It to Believe It” marketing campaign continues to saturate the airwaves and attract new visitors, Americans may opt to further explore the cultural offerings of other Mexican cities.
To that end, here is a look at what travelers to Mexico can expect in 2015.
|Karisma Hotels & Resorts plans to expand its El Dorado Seaside Suites in Playa del Carmen by mid-2015.|
Next spring travelers to Mexico can look forward to Hyatt Playa del Carmen, one of the first of many new hotels Hyatt plans to add to its Latin America and Caribbean portfolio. The resort’s location, on Mamitas Beach, is near Playa’s iconic 5th Avenue. The urban beach hotel will be one of the only non all-inclusive resorts in the city. Amenities will include a spa and fitness center; two onsite restaurants; afternoon tea and cocktail offerings; dedicated event space and a business center.
Karisma Hotels & Resorts, a luxury hotel collection that owns and manages properties in Mexico, Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe, recently announced the launch of the Karisma Preferred Partner program for tour operators. The Karisma Preferred Partner program will highlight a different tour operator each month, offering a variety of special activities to get everyone within the tour operator excited, motivated and trained on Karisma Hotels & Resorts and the Gourmet Inclusive Experience. The specialized program debuts in October with MLT Vacations, and a new tour operator from the U.S. or Canada will participate each month. Tour operators that are chosen to participate in the Karisma Preferred Partner program will enjoy a range of benefits, including training support, sales incentives and assistance, weekly contests, and Web, social media, and press exposure.
Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres was renamed and officially inaugurated as Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres Cancun earlier this month. The property offers 35 oceanfront suites with Jacuzzi terraces; gourmet dining; a full-service Spa & Thalasso Center with 10 treatment rooms and a natural seawater pool; a private marina with its own 42-foot yacht that transports guests between Cancun and the resort; and the AMResorts signature Endless Privileges program.
In the second half of 2015, Hyatt Ziva Cancun will open in the former Dreams Cancun space. The resort is undergoing a full renovation/demolition to completely transform the property and open up its three-sided beachfront space.
By mid-year, Los Cabos will be close to full strength, hotel wise. Nearly four dozen hotels are already back in operation following Hurricane Odile’s mid-September visit, and every month through June more are scheduled to reopen.
As more of Latin America becomes appealing to travelers, Mexico City has had to respond to a growing problem: the size of its main airport, Benito Juarez International Airport. The airport handles more than 24 million passengers each year and is Latin America’s second-busiest airport, after Sao Paulo. That said, the airport was hardly equipped to handle the volume of passengers that flow through on a daily basis, resulting in delays, pileups and headaches. As Mexico City and Central America open up as leisure destinations to the North American market and beyond, President Enrique Pena Nieto has put forth plans to address the problem with the construction of the new International Airport of Mexico City.
The Mexican Institute of Transportation estimates that in 2015, Benito Juarez could have up to 18 planes waiting for takeoff, implying 20-minute delays on average. Benito Juarez has reached its technical limits of operation and can only serve 32 million passengers a year.
The new airport will be located six miles from the existing airport. On the ground it will fit six runways, with the capacity to support the entire demand for the airport area. In the first phase, three parallel tracks will open, with a capacity for more than 50 million passengers annually. The second phase will unveil the final runways and increase the airport capacity to 120 million passengers per year.
President Pena Nieto says that the new airport will bring economic, social and environmental benefits. “No doubt, another great benefit of the airport will be the impetus to tourism in Mexico,” he continues. “There will be more airlines, a wider choice of flights, times and locations, and therefore will be able to receive more tourists.”
Carnival Miracle departed in October from Long Beach, Calif., on the first voyage of a new year-round cruise program to the Mexican Riviera. The ship was the first to call at Cabo San Lucas on October 6 following Hurricane Odile. Carnival Miracle’s new year-round Mexican Riviera program will encompass three different weeklong itineraries, including a new three-port, seven-day cruise featuring Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.
Carnival Miracle’s year-round schedule from Long Beach also includes two other itinerary options. The first is a seven-day, two-port itinerary that includes a stop in Cabo San Lucas, along with a two-day overnight stay in Puerto Vallarta. The second alternate itinerary includes a visit to Puerto Vallarta, along with a two-day call at Cabo San Lucas.