At 38th Tianguis show, signs that Mexico is back in the groove

Tianguis 2013 FloorPUEBLA, Mexico — The staccato of drumbeats emanating from the aisles of the massive Exposition Center here was an appropriate metaphor for the tenor of this year##Q##s Tianguis Turistico, Mexico##Q##s annual travel trade marketplace event.

Lots of records were set this year. The 38th Tianguis was the largest in terms of countries represented (42, including first-timers such as Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Thailand), number of buyers (673) and the appointments scheduled between buyers and sellers (26,288).

The numbers reflected the winds of change felt by government officials, tourism representatives and Tianguis delegates.

“This Tianguis and the quality of the destination tourist products and the vendors##Q## exhibits here represent the commitment we can achieve and offer our travelers to Mexico,” said Secretary of Tourism Claudia Ruiz Massieu. “We see great enthusiasm for our country and visible signs that we are growing and moving forward.”

Several buyers confirmed that.

“We know that Mexico is back and that plenty of opportunities exist to bring more customers to the destination,” said Elizabeth Moriarty, MLT Vacations##Q## vice president of product development.

MLT##Q##s team at Tianguis reported new and increased airlift, including Delta upping its weekly flight between Los Angeles and Puerto Vallarta to daily service from July 6 to Sept. 30 and increasing its weekly flight to twice a week between Los Angeles and Guadalajara on July 6, running through August.

From Los Angeles, Aeromexico on June 7 plans to launch a weekly flight to Huatulco through Aug. 16 and thrice-weekly flights to Cancun through Sept. 8.

Demand to the Pacific coast had dipped in the past, except for Los Cabos, due to reduced lift and high fares, but the new flights demonstrate that the region is coming on strong, according to Moriarty.

Frank Cordoba, secretary of tourism for the state of Sinaloa, where Mazatlan is located, reported increased airlift this summer from existing gateways in the U.S. and Canada and “the strong possibility” of new gateways opening up next fall.

“We have a positive story to tell with the return of three cruise lines for the next winter season as well as new hotel investment coming in,” he said. “The state and municipal governments and communities pulled together to implement security issues, which have worked to curb crime and change the traveler##Q##s perception regarding a visit to Mazatlan.”

Mexico##Q##s new emphasis on specific destinations and areas of interest such as culture, cuisine, heritage, adventure, sports and medical tourism sat well with Stephanie Schneiderman, owner of Tia Stephanie Tours in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“I have long promoted cultural journeys to Mexico, selling the destination as Mexico beyond-the-beach. This country has so much to offer, so many secret gems,” Schneiderman said.

That##Q##s exactly the response that Mexico##Q##s tourism team wants to hear. From the buzz in the aisles at Tianguis, it appeared that forward progress already can be charted.

Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly. 

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