The annual Tianguis Turistico Mexico takes place this March 23-26. Mexico’s signature trade show comes back full circle to Acapulco, where the event first took place forty years ago.
Both Tianguis and Acapulco have gone through some changes in the intervening years.
For Acapulco, the 40th anniversary hoopla offers the chance to buff up a reputation tarnished by drug-related violence.
Officials note that the latest U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory deems Acapulco’s tourist zones safe for travelers. They’re also hoping that improvements to infrastructure and connectivity will boost the city’s image internationally.
Some heavy hitters are participating in the effort to bring Acapulco back to its former glory.
No less than the world’s richest man, Mexican entrepreneur Carlos Slim, is heading the new Advisory Council for the Recovery of the Traditional Zone. That’s the neighborhood where the renowned La Quebrada cliff divers are located. Other landmarks there include the Hotel Flamingos and Hotel Boca Chica.
What’s more, the town’s main tourist zone has benefitted from $20 million in renovations. Highlights include a new tunnel connecting the Navy Base-Playa Icacos to the Diamond Zone.
Several of Acapulco’s beaches areas are being renovated, as is the area around the Port of Acapulco. And a new air terminal for flights from the U.S. and Canada is expected to receive one million passengers annually.
Pedro Haces Sordo, president of the Acapulco Destination Marketing Office, tells Travel Agent that Acapulco is showing all the signs of a comeback.
“We are strengthening our infrastructure with new renovation projects for downtown Acapulco and the Traditional Zone in preparation for Tianguis; a new Fiesta Americana Grand is in the works for 2016; we are reinforcing our connectivity with improvements to the airport, a new urban transit service called Acabus, and the macrotunnel project, which connects the Diamante and the Traditional zones; and just as importantly, we have an exciting agenda of events and promotions planned for visitors this year,” said Haces.
A revived, renewed and enhanced Acapulco makes a particularly fitting setting for this year’s Tianguis. The action-packed annual expo puts Mexico’s entire tourism industry on display. Hotels and hotel groups, ground operators, DMCs and local tourism boards vie for the attention of tour operators, wholesalers, agents and other buyers.
This year, more than 25,000 one-on-one meetings are already on the books.
The event venue is impressive as well. Acapulco Diamante’s EXPO Mundo Imperial Compex features entertainment options, a convention center, spa and the new Mundo Imperial Hotel. The property opened in September 2014 with 400 suites; another 400 suites will open later in the year.
Topics in focus at this year’s Tianguis include culture, luxury, adventure, colonial towns, ecotourism and spas. But some participants tell Travel Agent that it’s more about on-the-spot inspiration.
“Some of my best contacts come on the bus between the hotel and the conference center. That’s when I tend to meet agents. A lot of them tell me that they like what they see, but need more of a turnkey situation. I’m the type of operator that can connect the dots for them. It’s that type of networking that makes the show such an important one for me,” Stephanie Schneiderman, owner of Tia Stephanie Tours, tells Travel Agent.
Carmen Laborin, director of the consulting firm Bodas Destino Latinoamerica (Latin America Destination Weddings) agrees.
“The show gets better every year. It’s adapting to Millennials, who are the ones buying in my niche, which is romance travel. For us, it’s very important to be up to date with what’s happening in industry. Webinars are wonderful. But nothing replaces the old-fashioned personal contact,” said Laborin.
She added: “To have the fortieth anniversary event in Acapulco is fitting in so many ways. The destination was the height of luxury and elegance back in the day, especially for wealthy Americans. You know that President Kennedy and Jackie honeymooned there? It’s an inspiration to see that Acapulco is on the way back.”