“Mexico is on the south side of the divide, but on the right side of history – no-one on the wrong side of history will ever prevail.” With these words, and without naming the current US President, Taleb Rifai, General Secretary of the World Tourism Organisation, brought tears to the eyes of many delegates to Tianguis Turístico 2017 held in Acapulco, Mexico.
“From 23 million in 2012, Mexico’s international visitors have increased to 35 million and ninth place in 2016 – and will probably soon be in eighth, or even seventh, place,” he added. “People travel to places that they respect – the culture, the people and society – and they will continue to come to Mexico because no-one else can claim to offer all that you have.”
Mexico has more than 11,00km of coastline, 450 beaches and diverse marine landscapes – including the Sea of Cortez in Baja California Sur, which Jacques Cousteau described as “the world’s aquarium”.
Cancun, the most popular resort for Irish visitors, particularly with the Thomson Holidays summer charters from Dublin, is the gateway to the Yucatan and the Mayan treasures of Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Quintana Roo. Indeed, Mexico has 34 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 187 archeological sites open to the public.
Other attractions include 181 protected natural areas and 188 golf courses, as well as the Chepe train in Chihuahua’s Copper Canyon, which travels the 673km route twice daily through the Tarahumara Sierra and its main tourist attractions.
However, Mexico’s greatest attraction is its people, whose warmth and pride in their culture and country are palpable. The extraordinary diversity of Mexico’s indigenous peoples, cultures and colourful costumes, crafts and traditions are indicated by some of the photos taken by ITTN at Tianguis Turístico 2017.
Security for delegates was so tight that opportunities to see Acapulco were limited, but we had an enjoyable stay at the 4-star Princess Mundo Imperial Resort Hotel on Revolcadero Beach (www.princessacapulco.reservadirecto.com.mx) and made excursions to see the cliff divers of La Quebrada and the official opening of a new zipline, as well as having an excellent lunch at the Italian restaurant Becco Al Mare (www.beccoalmare.com) and a pleasant dinner offered by chef Susanna Palazuelos at Punta Sirena.
A most interesting development in Mexico’s domestic tourism has been the development of Viajemos Todos (www.beta.visitmexico.com/es/vtxm), a programme of special offers in conjunction with airlines, tour operators and hoteliers, etc, that encourages Mexicans, particularly those with low incomes, to experience more of their own country.
President Enrique Peña Nieto said: “What we want is for more Mexicans to know their country, to feel proud of their Mexico, to know their wealth, tourist sites, beaches, cultural, natural beauty, this indescribable country that we have.”
One element of this programme is Pueblos Mágicos, which highlights gastronomic tourism in 111 towns in 31 states throughout Mexico (www.pueblosmagicosrevista.com) – and also provides international visitors planning to tour Mexico with possible stopovers.
ITTN was welcomed to the Visit Houston stand by Jorge Franz, Senior Vice President – Tourism, Visit Houston, and Patricia Herrera, Executive Director, Southern US & Colorado, Mexico Tourism Board.
Houston was the guest city at Tianguis Turístico 2017 and is the fourth largest city in the USA with a population of 7.1 million, of which almost 40% are Hispanic, and of those more than 80% are from Mexico.
“We do cross-border promotions of our cities and regions,” said Jorge, “and Houston receives 2.2 million people and $2 billion dollars a year from Mexico. We exchange chefs and artists, which is incredibly good for both sides. For example, a Houston wall artist has worked in Mexico City and other cities. You can build walls for good, and not divide!”