February 3, 2015 – Officials from Mexico’s Ministry of Health met with tour operators from the United States and Canada yesterday in Cancun, Mexico, at a meeting organized by the Mexico Tourism Board. The meeting focused on a report of the latest Zika virus facts, the prevention and containment efforts by the Mexican government and tourism industry, and a continued practice of close coordination with the international tourism industry.
Dr. Alberto Diaz Quiñonez, Deputy General Director of the Mexican Institute for Diagnostic and Epidemiology, shared that Mexico has only 34 confirmed cases of the Zika virus, representing just 0.03% of the total cases reported globally. All of these cases are from Mexican nationals living in rural areas, far from the tourist destinations frequently visited by international tourists. Dr. Diaz shared, “While the Zika virus is inevitable in Mexico given its vast size, climate and trade in the region, the number of cases remains very low. Strong prevention efforts have already been in practice for years to prevent similar diseases.” He went on to emphasize, “Given these facts, there is no threat to tourists visiting Mexico.”
For several years Mexico’s major tourist destinations and businesses have practiced world-class procedures to control the mosquito population and minimize cases of dengue and other diseases. Hotels, restaurants, airports, and other areas frequently visited by tourists have in place mosquito eradication practices and closely follow international guidelines to monitor and control their growth. Given that the Zika virus is contracted in a manner similar to other mosquito-borne diseases that Mexico has long been combating, the entire country and especially its tourist destinations, are already well prepared to contain this latest disease.
Dr. Diaz referenced the World Health Organization (WHO)’s February 1, 2016, statement confirming that there is no reason to cancel or change travel plans to any country reporting Zika cases, including for pregnant women. With this advisory applying to all countries, even those with high numbers of cases, it’s yet another reason that Mexico, with a very low number of cases, continues to be a destination that millions of tourists are visiting each month.
Following the meeting, the group of international tour operators affirmed that Mexico’s comprehensive preparations and control measures give them the confidence to continue to recommend travel to Mexico for all tourists. Lawrence Elliott, Group Vice President at Sunwing Travel Group, commented, “I am impressed with Mexico’s understanding of the disease and aggressive steps taken to control its spread. I believe this latest health scare has been overstated and must be put into perspective. With so few cases, and zero reported in areas frequented by tourists, I continue to recommend travel to Mexico both personally to friends and family, and professionally to my customers.”
Mexico’s Craft beer producers will hold the first “RisingHop 2015” microbrew festival in Puerto Vallarta, at Parota Park on November 20 and 21, from 11 AM – 11 PM.
The aim is to promote the culture of craft beer that has been growing in the country, responsible consumption and family life, said Jose Armando Alvarado, organizer of the festival. ‘It’s a good opportunity for people from neighboring states like Guanajuato, Michoacán, San Luis Potosi, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Colima and Jalisco itself, to visit Puerto Vallarta and enjoy Mexico’s growing beer craft,” said Alvarado.
He noted that in Puerto Vallarta there are a variety of attractions, as it is renowned not only for its beaches and its wide variety of culinary styles, but also for the warmth and friendliness of the people in Vallarta.
The first festival will feature 5 pavilions that offer, in addition to beer and food tasting, art, entertainment and activities for visitors of all ages. In total there will be more than 10 craft beer stands offering local, national, and international brews, and 10 food vendors offering traditional regional cuisine and international foods.
RisingHop 2015 festival in Puerto Vallarta will include live music from local and national bands from electronic, jazz, blues, and rock.
The pavilions will also host a variety of crafts from the region, such as handicrafts, jams, organic honey, bags, dresses, jewelry, bread, and more.
For this festival, the participation of breweries Brewing Los Muertos in Puerto Vallarta, The Terrible, Brewery Colima, five brands from Michoacán Brewers Association, plus imported Belgian beer through The Beer Box.
Friends of Puerto Vallarta Pet Animals and Purr Project, which will be present in publicizing their work and raising awareness to people about caring for their pets. A portion of the entrance fee will be donated to the two associations.
The entry fee to RisingHop 2015 is 100 pesos and will include a full pint or two tastings and bracelet.
For people who come with family, there will be a nursery and playroom that will give small workshops, which will help kids develop their motor and mental skills by experienced psychologists.
Official website of event. http://risinghop.com/
The following post is courtesy of the wonderfully talented, Cristina Potters. Her blog (Mexico Cooks!) is incredibly successful and we are proud to have her as a contributor to share her knowledge, recipes, and gastronomical expertise about Mexico.
Mexico Cooks! couldn’t start the month of September without paying tribute to our iconic chiles en nogada (chiles in walnut sauce), the Mexican flag on your plate.
Mexico celebrates its independence the entire month of September with parades, parties, and traditional food and drink in restaurants and at home. The traditional festive dish during the weeks before and after the Independence Day holiday is chiles en nogada, a magnificent tribute to the seasonal availability of granadas (pomegranates) and walnuts. From mid- August till mid-October, fresh pomegranates and walnuts make chiles en nogada possible. Mildly spicy chiles poblano, stuffed with picadillo and topped with richly creamy walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds, flaunt the brilliant green, white and red of the Mexican flag.
This festive dish is traditionally served especially on September 15 or 16 in honor of Mexico’s Independence Day, though it is popular anytime in the late summer and early fall. During August and September in the highlands of Mexico, particularly in Mexico City and Puebla, the dish is very popular. On streets bordering city markets and tianguis (street markets), you will see village women sitting on blankets painstakingly cracking open nutshells and peeling the thin brown skin from each freshly harvested walnut. It is important to use the freshest walnuts possible, as they produce such a creamy, rich sauce that it is worth the effort demanded to peel them. Yes, the recipe is time-consuming…but you and your guests will jump up and shout “VIVA!” when you’ve licked the platters clean.
For the Meat
• 2 pounds beef brisket or other stew meat or 1 pound beef and 1 pound pork butt
• 1 small white onion, quartered
• 2 large cloves garlic
• about 1 Tablespoon sea salt
For the picadillo
• 4 Tablespoons freshly rendered pork lard or canola oil
• 1/3 cup chopped white onion
• 3 large cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
• 3 heaping Tablespoons raisins
• 1 or 2 chiles serrano, finely minced
• 2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans
• 2 Tablespoons chopped candied biznaga (cactus)
• 2 fresh peaches, skinned and diced
• 1 fresh pear, peeled and chopped
• 1 apple, peeled and chopped
• 1 extremely ripe platano macho (plantain)
• 1 large potato, peeled and diced
• 3 large, ripe tomatoes, roasted, peeled and chopped
• sea salt to taste
For the Chiles
6 fresh chiles poblano, roasted, peeled, and seeded, leaving the stem intact
For the Walnut Sauce
• 1 cup fresh walnuts
• 6 ounces doble crema or full-fat cream cheese at room temperature
• 1-1/2 cups crema mexicana or 1-1/4 cups sour cream thinned with milk
• about 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 Tablespoon sugar
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 cup dry sherry
Cut the meat into large chunks, removing any excess fat. Place the meat into a large Dutch oven with the onion, garlic, and salt. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim off any foam that collects on the surface. Lower the heat and allow the water to simmer about 45 minutes, until the meat is just tender. Take the pot off the stove and let the meat cool in the broth. Remove the pieces of meat and finely shred them.
Warm the oil in a large, heavy skillet and sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until they turn a pale gold. Stir in the shredded meat and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon, pepper, and cloves, then, stir in the raisins, the 2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts. Add the chopped pear, apple, and potato, and mix well. Add the tomatoes and salt to taste, and continue cooking over medium-high heat until most of the moisture has evaporated. Stir often so that the mixture doesn’t stick. Let cool, cover, and set aside. The picadillo may be made 1 day in advance.
Make a slit down the side of each chile, just long enough to remove the seeds and veins. Keep the stem end intact. Drain the chiles on absorbent paper until completely dry. Cover and set aside. The chiles may be prepared a day in advance.
At least 3 hours in advance, place the 1 cup walnuts in a small pan of boiling water. Remove from the heat and let them sit for 5 minutes. Drain the nuts and, when cool, rub off as much of the dark skin as possible. Chop into small pieces. Place the nuts, cream cheese, crema, and salt in a blender and purée thoroughly. Stir in the optional sugar, cinnamon, and sherry, if using, until thoroughly combined. Reserve at room temperature.
The stuffed chiles pictured above were dipped into an egg coating and fried prior to finishing with walnut sauce and garnishes. In Mexico, passionate diners argue the pros and cons of coating the chiles; many insist that coating and frying is not traditional, and many insist that it is. Mexico Cooks! prefers chiles en nogada with no coating.
Preheat the oven to 250ºF. When ready to serve, reheat the meat filling and stuff the chiles until plump and just barely closed. Place the chiles on a serving platter or on individual plates, cover with the walnut sauce, and sprinkle with parsley and pomegranate seeds
This dish may be served at room temperature, or it may be served chilled.
Note: Many people in today’s busy world prefer to make this recipe using a mixture of ground rather than shredded beef and pork. Using this quick method, simply brown the ground meats and add the rest of the picadillo ingredients once the meats are browned. The results will be excellent!
Travellers can claim back 8.9% of the total spend shopping, refund is deposited directly to their credit cards
Vancouver, Canada (September 09, 2015)- For many Canadians all is the perfect time of the year to plan a Winter family getaway. This year there are two more reasons why Canadians should choose Mexico. First of all, Canadian dollar has held its value against Mexican peso at an average rate of $12.60 pesos per dollar. Secondly, Canadians can now get a sales tax-refund of 8.9% of the total they spend while in Mexico. This means that regardless of your destination, vacationing in Mexico is more affordable than ever.
For a short period of time Danielle Van Der Kwartel, General Director of MONEYBACK, is in Canada to talk about how Canadians can get their money back when shopping in Mexico and instructing travel agents on how to assist their clients before leaving Canada.
MONEYBACK, Mexico’s leading tax-refund company, offers shoppers a guilt-free shopping experience by refunding 8.9% of the total amount they spend when traveling to Mexico. Items including jewelry, clothes, electronics, alcohol and handcrafts among others are eligible for a refund. Receiving your money back is fast and convenient. Filling out the forms takes only a few minutes and it can be done at the convenience of the airport or cruise port. To receive their refund, Canadian travelers must follow the next easy steps:
Shop at any of the 6,000 participating stores, including Costco, Sears, Louis Vuitton, Coach, Nine West, Diamonds International, MAC, Kenneth Cole and many more. (For all the affiliated stores visit: http://moneyback.mx/shophere-taxback.html)
When paying with a credit card spend a minimum of $1,200 pesos (approx. $93.00 CAD). If you are paying with cash there is no minimum required but purchases are limited to $3,000 pesos (approx. $232 CAD USD)
Save your invoices
Submit your invoices along with the shopping incentive refund form, credit card vouchers, copy of your passport, cruise ID or immigration form and boarding pass at any of MONEYBACK’s 55 service locations found at airports and cruise ports
Receive your 8.9% refund directly in your credit card less than 45 days after submitting your invoices
MONEYBACK’s tax-refund also applies to any shopping expenses at Xcaret, Xel-Ha and Delphinus. That is 8.9% of the total you spend that can be used for your next family getaway. The more you buy, the more you receive!
To learn more about MONEYBACK, participating stores and locations please visit: http://moneyback.mx/
MONEYBACK is Mexico’s leading tax refund service provider for international travelers with over 50 service locations throughout the country, covering 98% of all the points of departure. MONEYBACK opened its doors in August 2008, offering tax refund services in Mexico City and Los Cabos. Since then, the company has expanded to Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, among many other destinations in Mexico. Operated by travel industry professionals who understand the needs of international travelers visiting Mexico, MONEYBACK prides in offering fast and efficient tax refund services to leisure and business travelers. Mexico’s leading tax return company refunds 8.9% of shopping expenses to international travelers. MONEYBACK’s goal is to promote the best leisure and business shopping destinations in Mexico. For more information please visit: www.moneyback.mx.
JOYÀ, the spectacular show from Grupo Vidanta—a full-service tourism developer specializing in luxury resort development in Mexico—and Cirque du Soleil—a leading entertainment company—conquers the most demanding palate with an exquisite dinner created by Chef Alexis Bostelmann, an expert known for elevating traditional flavors to a new level.
After 10 years as executive corporate chef for Grupo Vidanta, including at the Vidanta Riviera Maya megaresort, Bostelmann is taking on a new project with a mission to create a world-class dining experience that promises to satisfy every bite with innovation and sophistication.
Bostelmann uses inspiration from the content of the JOYÀ show to develop a unique menu in partnership with Cirque du Soleil. The show highlights the magical journey of an aging alchemist and his granddaughter traveling through fantastical worlds on the relentless quest for the meaning of life.
“The idea was to combine culinary influence with the artistic appeal of the show. The theme merges cultural kitchens by infusing Mediterranean influences with Mexican ingredients,” said Bostelmann.
The evening experience begins with a selection of organic and mouth-watering appetizers. Regular and specialty options are available for the main course, including a catch of the day, prime rib, or vegetarian dishes. Dessert is presented in a spectacular, JOYÁ-inspired fashion – within a book – and Mercier champagne is glamorously paired with each course. Even the place settings are of impeccable custom-design.
“The dishes themselves consist of special pieces designed by artisans from Tlaquepaque. We also added some Michoacán elements to keep the Mexican essence,” said Bostelmann.
JOYÁ is performed in the Cirque du Soleil Theatre in Riviera Maya, which seats 600 people comfortably and includes a dining area, a champagne area, two bars and two lounge spaces. 194 seats are designed to be able to watch the show while eating dinner, 342 of the seats are arranged cabaret style with champagne offerings available and 64 seats are high barstools, all of which lead to a night of entertainment unlike any other.
Cirque du Soleil is primarily a creative content provider for a wide variety of unique projects. In addition to shows, the company, whose headquarters are located in Montreal, extends its creative talent to other spheres of activity. For any innovative project, Cirque du Soleil maintains rigorous standards of artistic quality and originality, and provides them with the same energy and spirit that characterizes each of its shows.
Cirque du Soleil is a Quebec -based organization providing high-quality artistic entertainment. Since its inception in 1984, nearly 150 million viewers in over 300 cities on six continents have been thrilled by Cirque du Soleil.
For more information about ONE DROP Foundation, please visit www.onedrop.org
About Grupo Vidanta
Grupo Vidanta is a full service tourism developer in Mexico and Latin America with practices in property architecture and product design, construction and operations. The company specializes in the development and operation of luxury resort and hotel brands in Mexico and counts AAA Five Diamond Award winning Grand Luxxe Nuevo Vallarta and three AAA Four Diamond Award winning resorts – Grand Luxxe Riviera Maya, The Grand Bliss Nuevo Vallarta and The Grand Mayan Riviera Maya – among its impressive portfolio of more than 25 resorts and hotels.
Grupo Vidanta’s visionary approach to the development of luxury beach destinations brings vacation dreams to life via membership-based resorts and mega-resorts on the coastlines of Mexico’s most sought-after locations – Nuevo Vallarta, Riviera Maya, Los Cabos, Acapulco, Puerto Peñasco, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán – with brands including Grand Luxxe, The Grand Bliss, The Grand Mayan, The Bliss, Mayan Palace, Ocean Breeze and Sea Garden, and more in development.
The company, which employs more than 12,000 individuals dedicated to design, development, construction and operations, is consistently recognized among the most revered employers in Latin America. Vidanta Golf is the largest operator of golf courses in Mexico, the real estate division has built and sold more than 2,000 vacation luxury homes, and the company is responsible for developing Mexico’s first privately built and owned airport, Mar de Cortés Internation Airport in Puerto Peñasco.
Grupo Vidanta was founded by Daniel Chávez Morán in 1974 and operates two foundations to enrich the lives of Latin Americans. For more information about Grupo Vidanta, visit http://www.grupovidanta.com
The Tianguis Turistíco has begun in Mexico, the first time in Acapulco for many years. In 2015 the event promises to transmit press conferences via livestreaming video. Will there be access to presentations and press releases? What will will learn from this year’s event? What will we learn about the local host state, Guerrero?
For those hacking the event, use the Twitter hashtag #Tianguis2015 and let us know what we should pay attention.
What do I find wrong with these events? Honestly, I see very few local voices articulated and amplified. We hear more from the ministers and consultants than from the business owners, the guides, the artisans and other locals who stand to benefit from tourism.
As I point out in Mexico Now, the tourism sector is undergoing a transformation that connects locals and visitors as never before. These are the stories we want and need to hear. If tourism trade shows are not delivering, we need to find a way to hack the events to put the spotlight on locals.