Tapijulapa, Tabasco, is a small town home to crafts, nature and tradition. Whitewashed houses, red tile roofs, cobblestone streets and beautifully painted pots decorate the town. A zip line hovers overhead, and crosses the Oxolotan River. The town is famous for artisans who make furniture with regional vines,… which the locals call “matusay.” The finished products are often referred to as wicker furniture. These wicker crafts have been made for over half a century, and can be found in the form of chairs, tables, baskets, sombreros and thousands of other items.
The central plaza of Tapijulapa is adorned with trees and a gazebo. The side streets are decorated with the charming houses. The Oxolotan Convent rests on the banks of the Oxolotan River. Built around 1572, it has interesting and intricate architectural details. Now home to an art museum, the ex-convent showcases colonial pieces, oil paintings and wooden sculptures.
Tapijulapa is nestled between the foothills of the Sierra madre del Sur mountains of the state of Tabasco. The State Reserve “Sierra de Tabasco” protects the last remnants of the forest Tabasco, and adds rich nature to Tapijulapa. The Amatan River drifts alongside one side of the town, and the other side is bordered by the Oxolotan River. The surrounding mountains, forests and river provide waterfalls, natural pools, botanical gardens and nature trails. The rivers provide refuge for hot summer days. These outdoor activities are encompassed by unparalleled natural beauty, with a wide variety of flora and fauna to appreciate.
A setting perfect for enjoying nature is the Yu-Balcah, an ecological reserve. Visitors can walk into the jungle and observe endangered animals, as well as camp, bike, kayak and simply observe nature. The Kolem Jaa (The Greatness of Water) ecotourism centre has a spectacular group of waterfalls. Scattered along the falls are botanical gardens and nature trails.
Ancient tradition is also found in Tapijuapa. The Cueva de las Sardinas Ciegas (Cave of the blind sardines) holds a lake inside. Because the water is surrounded by darkness, the fish inside are blind. There was an ancient Mayan tradition to honour Chac, the rain god, where ceremonial fishing would occur. To honour this tradition, natives join in the cave on Palm Sunday to fish, and the amount caught forecasts the future crop.
The Pueblos Magicos programme identifies towns that reflect “the culture of Mexico” through attributes like architecture, traditions, customs, music, gastronomy, festivities and handcrafts. There are currently 52 destinations throughout Mexico that have earned the Pueblos Magicos classification.
On November 4-6, 2012, North American meetings industry leaders who are also members of the PCMA North American Advisory Board, gathered for the 5th Annual PCMA North American Advisory Summit 2012 held at the Mazatlan International Centre in Mazatlan, Mexico. To watch our MexicoToday exclusive coverage, click here for photos on our Flickr channel, and click here… for our video wrap-up on our YouTube channel.
Joined by local government representatives, PCMA’s president and CEO Deborah Sexton announced during the closing ceremony that the 2013 conference will take place in Puebla, Mexico.
At the nearly 100,000 square feet venue, Mexican meetings industry representatives heard from the Advisory Board members, such as Barry Smith of Metro Toronto Convention Centre and Robert Lander of Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, about the latest on successful business practices in the meetings industry.
During a panel discussion on the opening day, key representatives discussed the importance of educating the world on Mexico’s continued development in recent years and highlighting advantages of selecting Mexico as a meetings and travel destination. They suggested that delegates focus on features such as Mexico’s proximity to the United States, the government zero-tax incentive, all-inclusive resorts, diversity among various states, a rich culture and welcoming people, among the key advantages in selecting Mexico.
Experts also gathered with delegates in small groups to address current issues within the industry and possible solutions. Through strategic collaboration and consulting sessions, the participants searched for ways to further enhance the sector in Mexico and promote it as a top attraction for business travel in a competitive market.
At the final panel discussion, members of the Advisory Board provided overall tips and ideas on ways to combat current challenges in the tourism sector, and ways to advertise Mexico’s strengths to the global community.
For a number of years, Acapulco was the primary spot for business travel in Mexico. This year, however, the PCMA North American Advisory Summit was held at the Pacific Coast beach resort in Mazatlan, Mexico to showcase other attractions within the country. Mazatlan was selected for its rich culture and history as an international commercial seaport, as well as its established resort destinations.
For travellers who expect high-end luxury accommodations, the finest culinary experiences and unprecedented beauty and tranquility, look no further than Maroma on Mexico’s Mayan Riviera.
Maroma is second-to-none. Its lush property includes a 200-acre jungle and unspoiled white sand beaches fronting the stone buildings, hand designed by a family of Mayan stonemasons.
But it is more than just beauty that sets Maroma apart. This Mexican luxury resort stands apart for its undeniable attention to detail and its respect for the Mayan culture. The resort was built to align with the stars to ‘…ensure property energy flow that so that mind, body and spirit are at peace.’ Maroma offers Spanish immersion courses, traditional Mayan cuisine, eco-tours and visits to Mayan cultural sites Chichen Itza and Cobá. The resort is currently ranked #1 out of #184 resorts in Playa del Carmen on Trip Advisor.
Mexico’s Mayan Riviera has long been a sought-after vacation destination due to its beautiful white sand beaches, clear blue water and gorgeous weather.
2012 has been a booming year for the Mexican tourism industry. Just recently, the British and Mexican governments signed a tourism agreement, and this year is looking to be a record-breaking year with 24.6 visitors expected to Mexico.
And getting to Maroma is now easier than ever via nearby Cancun International Airport. Virgin Atlantic has just announced new nonstop flights to Cancun from the UK, and British Airways currently flies to Cancun from London-Gatwick. Charter airlines Thomson, Thomas Cook and Monarch also operate flights to Cancun from various locations throughout the UK.
From the coasts to the country's mountainous interior, five up-and-coming destinations to put on Mexico must-visit list are Campeche Colonial, Playa Espiritu, Copper Canyon, Puebla and San Luis Potosi.
Mexico has always been known for its gorgeous resort towns and glittering white sandy beaches. Cancun, Acapulco, Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta have long been known as popular resort towns. But tourism in Mexico is so much more, and the Pueblos Magicos – ‘Magic Villages’ – programme has been established to highlight Mexican destinations that may be off the beaten path.
Tourism has always been one of Mexico’s largest industries. Mexico is the number one destination for foreign tourists within the Latin America region and number two destination in the Americas, ranking worldwide in the tenth place in terms of the international tourist arrivals.
Mexico’s Travel & Tourism Economy increased its contribution to 13.2% of Mexico's GDP, growing by 3.8%. Mexican tourism is blossoming, a fact attributable to a number of factors, not least it’s beautiful scenic views and Mediterranean weather. Although the resort towns of Mexico's Pacific and Caribbean coasts are commonly frequented by tourists, most of mainland Mexico —all 1,220,610 square miles of it—is rarely seen.
Mexico is a historic and culturally rich country – tourists are being encouraged to explore further afield than the beaches. Lack of awareness about Mexico's vastness and its diverse geography are two of the most persistent challenges the country faces with respect to tourism.
Gloria Guevara, Mexico's Secretary of Tourism said:
“People think they know Mexico, but they don't, Mexicans don't even know Mexico.”
The expansion of the Pueblos Magicos programme, established to spur domestic travel, which accounts for 85% of tourism in Mexico, has also drawn travellers to places that are less well-known than Cancun and Los Cabos. The majority of the Pueblos Magicos—which are so named because they possess unique symbols, legends, history, important events that convey Mexican history—are located in the interior.
Terry Denton is the President of Texas-based travel agency Travel Leaders and the publisher of the blog Travel By Terry.
In a recent blog post, Denton responded to some of the sensationalised news stories that paint an inaccurate portrait of tourism in Mexico.
“Imagine how I feel,” wrote Denton, “laboring away in the vineyards of travel and being subjected to a flood of negative news reports about Mexico, a country of incredible beauty, rich history and some of the finest people God ever planted on this planet.”
In order to correct such negative portrayals in the media, Denton measures Mexican tourism by three metrics:
Geography: Noting that Mexico has over 2500 municipalities and security problems have been concentrated in just 18 of them.
Statistics: For instance, 23.4 million international travelers visited Mexico in 2011, an all-time record.
Experience: Denton shares his own personal experience of travelling in Mexico: “I have been traveling there for over 25 years, multiple times many years, without ever once being threatened or harassed. My story is but one of millions as the statistics above corroborate.”
Denton has started the Twitter hashtag #mexicomaligned to raise awareness in social media of misconceptions about travel in Mexico and to provide positive, factual testimonials about travel and tourism.
Denton closes with one piece of personal advice: “Don’t let a myopic media’s thirst for mayhem rob you of experiencing one of the world’s great treasures.”
With tourism on the rise, Mexico is the 10th most visited country worldwide, and the country has aims to be in the top 5 by 2018.
Former NBA basketball star Shaquille O'Neal recently visited Monterrey, Mexico to attend a social project. Upon his arrival, he was warmly welcomed by a traditional Mexican mariachi band. On his Twitter account, he expressed his appreciation for Mexico by saying, “Thanks for the warm welcome… muchas gracias, yo amo#Mexico…To all the people in Mexico muchas gracias I had a great time. Can't wait to come back.”
The Mexico Tourism Board was named “Tourism Board of the Year” by Virtuoso, the world’s most important luxury tourism network. The Mexico Tourism Board was recognized for the work performed and results achieved in promotion strategies, market diversification, advertising campaigns and… partnerships with major travel agents worldwide. The recognition was given at Virtuoso Travel Week, one of the most recognized trade shows in the international luxury travel market which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mexico's Secretary of Tourism Gloria Guevara Manzo accepted the award.
"Mexico has been an integral part of the Virtuoso destination family throughout the years and continues to show its commitment to this network from the highest levels," said Virtuoso president and CEO Matthew D. Upchurch. "Mexico is a unique destination, close to my heart, and I am thrilled to see that our members and their clients share my passion for the diverse beauty, proud heritage, stunning cuisine and a rich experience Mexico offers upscale travelers," he added.
Virtuoso Travel week was attended by more than four thousand industry specialists and leaders from 85 countries and 350 thousand businesses, Mexico was the main highlight of the event in getting this highly praised award.
Photo: From left, Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete, chief operating officer of the Mexico Tourism Board and Undersecretary of Tourism; Matthew Upchurch, chairman and CEO of Virtuoso; Mexico Secretary of Tourism Gloria Guevara Manzo; and president of Virtuoso Kristi Jones pose with the Virtuoso Tourism Board of the Year award during the Destination Showcase dinner on Monday, August 13, 2012 in Las Vegas. (David Becker/AP Images for Mexico Tourism)
Mexican tourism expects to set a record this year with at least 24.6 million foreign tourist visits, Tourism Secretary Gloria Guevara said.
In what is another boost for the flourishing Mexican economy, Mexican tourism should increase by more than 5 per cent from the 23.4 million visits received in 2011.
Traditional Mexican culture has always been an attractive proposition for tourists, and as Mexico continues to modernise – without compromising its strong traditionalist heritage – the country is attracting many more overseas visitors.
Eco-tourism is also drawing tourists to the country. One example of this is the Costa Chica – an area of the Pacific Coast in the state of Oaxaca – which is now attracting tourists after a ban on turtle hunting in 1990, following which the region shifted from hunting to environmentally-responsible tourism.
Latin America’s second-largest economy seeks to become among the top five international tourist destinations by 2018. The country currently ranks 10th, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
“We’re on track” to reach that goal, Guevara said.
Guevara, who became the Tourism Minister in March 2010, said that this year Mexico will also register its highest revenue from tourism on record.
International tourism is the fifth-largest source of foreign revenue, the Mexican Mining Chamber said in a May report. Guevara said last year that Mexico expected 50 million tourist arrivals and $40 billion in income from the industry in 2018.
Mexican tourism is getting a boost, as freewheeling billionaire Sir Richard Branson is paying a visit to Cancun.
And it’s not just the sunny skies and the gorgeous beaches beckoning Branson from his home in London. Branson’s Virgin Atlantic airways have just announced that they’ll be expanding their long-haul network by adding twice-weekly flights from London-Gatwick to Cancun.
Sir Richard Branson said:
“Cancun is one of the top five long-haul leisure destinations for UK travellers, so we are delighted to be able to add this route to the network. This route launch further cements our position as the UK’s leading long haul leisure airline.”
Branson’s announcement comes just as VisitBritain and the Mexico Tourism Board have inked a deal to promote tourism between the two nations. With British PM David Cameron visiting Mexico City on a trade mission last June, stronger ties continue being forged between Mexico and the United Kingdom.
The flights will be operated on Virgin Atlantic’s recently refurbished 451-seat 747-400 aircrafts. Virgin’s service will compete with British Airway’s thrice-weekly flights, Thomson Airway’s five times a week flights and Thomas Cook’s twice-weekly flights.
Mexican tourism is expected to receive a huge boost following a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between tourism agency VisitBritain and… the Mexico Tourism Board that was signed last week.
Trade & Investment Minister Lord Green has welcomed the agreement which will see the UK and Mexico develop tourism initiatives with an emphasis on luxury travel, adventure, nature, beach, sport and cultural tourism.
“I am delighted the UK and Mexico are committed to increasing tourism," Lord Green, who accompanied Prime Minister David Cameron to Mexico last week, said.
"I would like to see more British tourists visiting this wonderful country which has world heritage sites, biosphere reserves and rare wildlife, as well as beaches. I also look forward to seeing many visitors from Mexico this summer at London 2012.”
Mexico and Britain have been increasing synergies over the past few years, with Mexican culture gradually influencing the British Isles. The UK is now one of the top ten overseas destinations for visitors from Mexico. Around 78,000 Mexican tourists visited the UK in 2011. Last year, an estimated 300,000 UK tourists visited Mexico.
In 2011, the value of tourism to the UK was around £31 billion. International tourism in Mexico brings in more than $1 billion per month. In 2010, 22 million tourists visited Mexico from around the world and it was ranked 10th globally in terms of international visitor arrivals.
The memorandum of understanding was signed in Mexico City by Christopher Rodrigues, Chairman of VisitBritain, and Gloria Guevara Manzo, the Mexican Minister of Tourism and head of the Mexico Tourism Board.
Christopher Rodrigues said that tourism was part of the plan to deliver an economic legacy.
"Tourism is an industry that can deliver growth and jobs to both Mexico and Britain, at a time when the global economic environment looks challenging," he said.
"Latin America is of increasing significance to Britain as we look to deliver an economic legacy from the global showcasing that will result from hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“We look forward to working closely with the Mexican Tourism Board to share key insights which will enable us to build on a Mexican inbound industry which is worth £57 million to the UK economy each year.”
This news comes following a host of upmarket Mexican restaurants which have successfully established themselves in the UK. Restaurants such as Wahacca, Benito’s Hat and Mission Burrito have helped build a surge in popularity of Mexican food in Britain by bringing authentic Mexican spices and flavours to the UK. Last year, Mexico’s cuisine became the first national cuisine to be awarded cultural heritage status from the UN.
South of California, on the Pacific Coast of Mexico sits Baja California, a wild, dry, isolated peninsula.
The oceans off the coast of this peninsula are far from isolated, however. In the waters surrounding Baja California, Mexico are some of the greatest varieties of whales on the planet – it’s heaven for any nature lover.
Zoologist Mark Carwardine touts Baja California as one of the greatest ecological sites on Earth, renowned for the variety of whales near its shore.
“One moment you could be surrounded by thousands of boisterous common dolphins or enjoying a close encounter with an inquisitive fin whale, the next you could be alongside a group of deep-diving sperm whales or watching a family of rare and elusive Peruvian beaked whales.
“Best of all, as there are more than 1,860 miles of untamed shoreline and very few whale-watching boats in the region, most of the time you have the whales, dolphins and other wildlife all to yourself.”
Indeed, it’s the peaceful solitude that sets Baja California apart from other whale-watching destinations. The Pacific coast contains secluded mangrove lagoons, which are havens for the friendly grey whales. Watching them swim and play, it’s hard to believe that they were once considered violent and dangerous – and were dubbed ‘devilfish’. The eastern side of Baja – the Sea of Cortez – is dotted with endless islands, and the waters are home to the massive blue whales. These gargantuan, placid creatures are almost as long as a Boeing 737! Once hunted by ruthless whalers, the blue whale population in the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California) is now thriving.
For any nature lovers, this Mexican ecology paradise is a must visit!
Once the centre of Mexican turtle hunting, the Costa Chica – an area of the Pacific Coast in the state of Oaxaca – is now drawing tourists for a different reason: its no-frills attitude, friendly residents and thriving eco-tourism industry.
But if it’s jetskis, glittering resorts and miles of tourists sunning on beaches you’re searching for, you might be in the wrong place for your Mexican holiday. Here, you’re less likely to jostle with throngs of travellers and it’s quite likely during your stay that you’ll see the same people more than once, walking on the road to town.
The Costa Chica –made up of the four small towns on Ventanilla, Mazunte, San Agustinillo and Zipolite – was once completely devoid of tourists. Local industry revolved around hunting turtles and the legendary rocky shores and massive waves scared away visitors. But after the ban on turtle hunting in 1990, the region shifted from hunting to environmentally-responsible tourism. Non-profits and green businesses have sprouted up throughout the region. And the National Mexican Turtle Center has become not only a thriving tourist destination but a centre for research with all species of turtles indigenous to Mexico.
The foreboding waves of Costa Chica, once a barrier to visitors, are not as dangerous as advertised. Small pools and lagoons dot the beach and allow for families with small children to enjoy the water along with the more adventurous swimmers.
Hugo Ascención López, the owner of Arte Sano in San Agustinillo, moved to the Costa Chica after years of big city living. He said:
“In the city, there is no time for anything. I wanted a different take on life, and this is something simpler.”
With the glittering beaches drawing crowds of tourists across Mexico, the Costa Chica does indeed offer something simpler—small towns, comfortable cafes, friendly locals and quiet beaches. For families looking for something apart from the typical Mexican beach holiday, Costa Chica might be just the right destination.
British Airways offers direct flight service to Mexico City from London-Heathrow.
MexicoToday speaks to a young tourist in Mexico City, where she talks about her favourite things to do in Mexico; how much she loves Mexican… street food, and some of her favourite Mexican locations, including Chapultepec Park in Mexico City.
Here, a businessman on holiday in Mexico City speaks to MexicoToday about his trip. He talks about enjoying Mexican cuisine, especially ‘marisco’, or shellfish and raves about his experience in the city, especially all it has to offer culturally.
With its breathtaking views, Monte Albán is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, having been inhabited by for roughly 1,500 years by the Olmecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs.
Readers of The Guardian recently submitted “life changing travel tips” for exotic locales across the world. One such reader highlighted the Zapotec ruins in Monte Albán, Oaxaca. The reader describes the ruins as “truly awe-inspiring,” complete with magnificent views from every viewpoint.
The winning tip came from a contributor who commented on the Amazon rainforest in Manu, Peru, where the reader described her experience at a natural oil spring. Other locations with travel tips include:
To see all tips, visit Readers' travel tips: life-changing trips.
The Daily Mail’s Sarah Gordon recently spent holiday in Tulum, Mexico, and described the experience as a rich one, with ‘celebrities galore and amazing ruins.’
The list of celebrities that frequent Tulum, Mexico for holiday is long: Drew Barrymore is said to enjoy holidaying at Casa Magna, a luxurious beachside ecohotel.
While the Hollywood star enjoys soaking up the Mexico sun, actor Ryan Phillippe was recently spotted having lunch with Mamma Mia! star Amanda Seyfried at Coqui Coqui, a rustic spa hotel.
Other actors and pop stars like George Clooney, Sienna Miller, Natalie Imbruglia and Kate Bosworth have all escaped their hectic Hollywood schedules with relaxing stays on beautiful white-sand beaches in Tulum, Mexico.
Although beaches are a huge attraction, Mayan ruins are also major part of the beautiful landscape in Tulum, Mexico.
Even modern day Disney-style eco parks of Xel-Ha and Xcaret, which offer family-friendly activities such as snorkeling, swimming with dolphins and nature trails, draw heavily on Mayan myths and legends.
Everywhere you look on the Yucatan Peninsula you will find sources of inspiration and remnants of Mayan culture that is interwoven into daily life here, such as the pyramids that emerge from a jungle canopy at Coba, or the clifftop ruins at the beach of Tulum.
Check out the Daily Mail’s review to learn more.
According to the World Travel Market 2011 Industry Report 2011, one in four senior travel executives claim their government isn’t doing enough to help tourism. The report polled more than 1,000 individuals on a number of travel topics and was released at the World Travel Market – a… premier event for the travel industry.
This is the fifth time the organisation has hosted this type of global event. Reed Travel Exhibitions chairman World Travel Market, Fiona Jeffery said:
“At last year’s UNWTO Ministers’ Summit, China was heralded for its government’s commitment to helping inbound and outbound tourism. Mexico, Italy and Argentina also received plaudits for the positive approach their governments have to tourism.”
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, tourism supports more than 258 million jobs worldwide. Despite this, more than half of those surveyed this year reported their government only supports tourism “to a limited extent.”
Additionally, the report also found that senior travel executives were concerned about government-imposed taxation; for example, those in Britain found holiday taxes to have a significant effect on holiday choices.
As one of Mexico’s ancient civilisations, the Maya have often been recognised for their scientific and mathematical contributions. According to their complex calculations, the Maya predicted the world to end on 21 December 2012. While it’s not certain whether or not this marks the true… end of the world, or simply the start of a new era, Mexico is hoping the occasion will bolster tourism in Mexico by attracting those looking to visit Mayan archaeological remains.
"It is an invitation to mobilise the nation and to drive cultural tourism as one of our great assets," said Mexico’s tourism minster Gloria Guevara Manzo. "It will allow us to strengthen our national identity and the attachment to our roots."
Mexico typically attracts more than 20 million visitors a year. According to the London-based tour operator Journey Latin America, its bookings to Mexico rose 10 percent over the past year.