Mexico's Tianguis Expands, Might Move; Country Ups Markeing Efforts

ACAPULCO—Mexico's 32nd Annual Tourism Tianguis, the country's largest tourism trade fair, convened in Acapulco last week with news of tourism developments throughout the country, first-time participation by Central American countries and plans to increase exhibitors from the region. The latter prompted speculation the show might move to Mexico City. "This is a global world," said Rodolfo Elizondo, Mexico's Tourism Minister.  Rodolfo Elizondo, Mexico's Tourism Minister (center, light blue shirt, moustache), cuts the tape to open Tourism Tianguis

Lopez Mena, CEO of the Mexico Tourism Board, outlined expanded initiatives for Tianguis. He noted that this year Tianguis welcomed participation from Belize and Guatemala; next year there are plans to open the invitation to other Central American countries so they can link their offerings to Mexico's tourism products. This predicted expansion of Tianguis has opened discussions to consider moving the event, most likely Mexico City, since the capital is a transportation hub.

Buyers were also more international in scope: This was the first year Hungary, the CzechRepublic and India attended.

Mexico plans a 45 percent increase in its marketing budget in 2007, allocating a staggering $145 million to promoting the country. Most of the funds will be directed to the North American market. An additional goal is to increase the number of business travelers throughout the country, and to this end, the Mexico Tourism Board will open a branch office next month in Washington, D.C., devoted to promoting business travel. There will also be renewed efforts to encourage business travelers in Mexico City to add on leisure days to their business trips.

In the Pipeline

The Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau noted that Cancun had 11,000 rooms in 2006; 24,600 rooms presently available; and another 15,000 in the pipeline. The Acapulco Convention and Visitors Bureau announced that since 2005, the resort destination has seen $120 million invested in remodeling and renovation of existing hotels.

"In order to propose new projects, we must first finish and consolidate projects we've already taken on," noted Miguel Gomez Mont, director general, FONATUR. These include major developments in Nayarit in two phases, with Litibu receiving a FONATUR investment of $71.5 million and the second phase, El Capomo, receiving an investment of $59 million. Of interest is FONATUR's commitment to revive the beach destination of Huatulco, where there are plans to build 25,000 new rooms, which would double the existing number. Mont noted that Huatulco could combine Ritz-Carlton-type properties on one side of its bay with all-inclusive and three- and four-star properties on the other side.

Given the attention luxury developments have been receiving throughout the world, it was interesting to hear Mont remark that FONATUR will devote some of its energies to projects for lower-spending families, rather than just deep-pocketed travelers. "These low-income sites can be even more profitable than elite developments," said Mont.

When asked if any developers had been scared off by last year's civil unrest in Oaxaca, Mont replied, "Only one investor pulled out of Huatulco because of Oaxaca. This investor has since returned with an interest in reestablishing his investment."

Tianguis by the Numbers

This year's Tianguis drew more than 2,200 Mexico tourism service providers and 1,000 registered buyers from Mexico and 30 other countries. One of Tianguis' main attractions is the one-on-one appointments registered attendees can schedule with exhibitors via an online system. This year there were more than 18,500 business appointments. Visit www.tianguisturistico.com.mx.

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