MTB Celebrates Anniversary in Washington DC

MP Mexico News Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24th 2008– After one year of successful operations, The Mexico Tourism Board is celebrating the anniversary of the Strategic Business Unit in Washington, D.C. headed by Eduardo Chaillo, (Director of the Strategic Business Unit for the MTB in U.S. & Canada).  In the past year, the office has strengthened its operations in the US and Canada market by successfully promoting Mexico as a premier destination.

The Strategic Business Unit is comprised of a team of specialized professionals, who work together to coordinate the operation and strategies for the MTB’s eight offices located throughout the US and Canada. Chaillo is proud to report that in the past year, strategic alliances and partnerships have been formed with key players in the North American travel industry including meeting industry companies such as: the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE,) Meeting Professionals International ( MPI), Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and SITE and influential names within the luxury and leisure travel sector such as: Virtuoso, Ensemble, Expedia and National Geographic Traveler..

“We are delighted to celebrate the first anniversary of our office in Washington, D.C. In just twelve short months, we’ve improved our approach within the association and tour operator market, and have worked directly with the Mexican Embassy to put tourism issues alongside the government’s agenda” said Chaillo. He reinforces that this is only the beginning of what he foresees to become a flourishing market. “Even though, it’s only been a year, we will continue working hard to ensure that the Mexico Tourism Board will dominate tourism promotion with business, partners and clients throughout the U.S. and Canada” Added Chaillo.

The northeast region of the United States is one of Mexico’s most important international tourism feeder markets because of its population density and per-capita income. With that, the office has been successful in encouraging tourism among educational institutions, and most importantly, making tourism affairs an important subject on the political agenda.

With the collaboration of the other Mexico Tourism Board offices throughout the U.S. and Canada, the Strategic Business Unit has achieved a meaningful presence in national, regional, and international forums in which intermediaries have learned that Mexico’s tourism alternatives are beyond anyone’s expectations.

 

Swimming With Whale Sharks Near Cancun

The following a story is by Paul “Doc” Anes, owner of San Diego Shark Diving Expeditions, Inc http://www.sdsharkdiving.com/, recounting a recent dive trip he took to the waters off Isla Holbox, near Cancun, to dive with the Whale Sharks.

Isla Holbox Adventure

It was an easy couple of flights from the US into Cancun, Mexico. The plan was to meet the group I would be escorting outside the arrivals terminal. It didn’t work out that way, but that’s another story. We finally hooked up and motored our way in the transfer van to the village of Chiquila. At Chiquila we hopped on the ferry that would take us to Isla Holbox. My contact on Holbox was waiting for us at the ferry landing, where we loaded our luggage onto his truck and walked through town to our hotel. The Hotel Holmar had just added a new second story  and featured a small pool that was great for cooling off in the afternoon. We arranged to meet at the Holbox tours office on the beach the next morning for our first day of snorkeling with the Whale Sharks.

We had coffee and cookies at the Holbox tours office then were briefed on the rules for snorkeling with the Whale Sharks. Our guide, Renee, and Captain David were the same crew we had during my trip in 2006.

It is a 1 1/2 hr boat ride to the viewing area off the NE tip of the Yucatan peninsula. Once in the area we spotted several Whale Sharks feeding on the surface. We all geared up and the first two were given the go signal from the Capt.  Our in-water guide, had jumped in earlier to keep track of the animal. As soon as we hit the water the huge head of the Whale Shark appeared. It was really moving so we had to kick hard to keep up with the shark as he gulped water and strained out the plankton that it fed upon. Everyone had several encounters with the Whale Sharks and one couple got lucky when one of the animals stopped dead in the water and just opened and closed it mouth to feed.

On the way back to the pier we stopped at the lighthouse at Cabo Catoche to wait out a rain squall that was crossing further to the west. After 20 minutes we backed off the beach and continued on our way to the pier where we disembarked. Everyone on board agreed it was a terrific experience. Back to the hotel to rinse off gear, take a shower, and then lunch on the beach at one of the seaside restaurants. After lunch it is siesta time. It is a perfect time for a nap since it is very hot during the afternoons on the island.

After the sun goes down everything cools off and a gentle breeze usually blows across the island. This is the time when everyone comes out. There is usually something happening in the central plaza which is surrounded by several nice restaurants. There are also several internet “cafés” so if you just have to check your emails it is very cheap to log on. There are many small shops where you can get the obligatory “I was here” t-shirt and other trinkets for the natives back home.

Everyone had a sound sleep the last night. We once again gathered at 6:30 for coffee and cookies before heading to our respective boats. We saw the same dolphins on the way out. Sandra, one the girls on the bow, shouted that she had seen a school of Golden Rays. The captain reversed course as we motored up to a huge school of Golden Rays just under the surface. There must have been several hundred 2-3 ft Golden Rays in the school. There were rays from the surface down as far as we could see into the water. It was a magical site! After everyone got pictures of the rays we continued on our original course. It was unbelievable, but we ran into two more schools of Golden Rays! We took some more pictures and continued looking for Whale Sharks. We finally found a couple of sharks, but they were moving too fast for the snorkelers. The captain then got a report over the marine radio that there was a group of Whale Sharks and Mantas close by. We raced to get to the spot to find that there were at least a dozen Whale Sharks and lots of Mantas all swimming near the surface feeding on a concentration of plankton. One of the passengers remarked “this is like Disneyland!” There were so many Whale Sharks and Mantas that they didn’t know where to look! Once back at the dock some got cleaned up to do a special tour to see the Flamingos and splash in the local cenote. I, on the other hand, opted for a massage. After an hour of this tiny gal kneading my body all over with soothing aromatic oil and warmed stones, I felt like a wet noodle. It was sooo relaxing! Hey ya gotta relax on vacation, right?

After meeting for coffee the next morning we headed to our respective pangas for our last day of Whale Shark viewing. The first Whale Shark we splashed with was moving too fast for the snorkelers to keep up with so we moved on to where we could see a grouping of animals a short distance away. It was a repeat of the previous day with 12 Whale Sharks and several Mantas concentrated in an area about the size of a football field. There were also several Bottlenose Dolphins cruising nearby. Everyone onboard the panga got several opportunities to swim with the Whale Sharks and Mantas. The last Whale Shark we snorkeled with was a small female only about 15 ft long. The thing that was special about this particular Whale Shark was that it was moving very slowly through the water as it concentrated on feeding and it didn’t seem to mind having snorkelers nearby. Several times during the 45 minutes that snorkelers were near the animal it would stop its forward swimming and go tail down-head up in a vertical position and just open and close its mouth sucking water then straining out plankton. This behavior allowed the snorkelers to stop swimming themselves and get even closer to the animal without having to keep up with it. I had seen behavior like this once before the previous year and it is an underwater photographer’s dream as it allows them the opportunity to compose their photo while stopped in the water and also to get close up images of the open mouth of the Whale Shark. After cleaning gear and setting it out to dry, some of us met for lunch at one of the beach restaurants while one opted for a massage and another for horseback riding. Later that evening all in the group ended up at a funky little restaurant called La Rustica that is owned by a German couple. Deiter runs the kitchen and Martina takes care of the tables. Who would have guessed you could get “weinerschnitzel” in tropical Mexico!

( I just heard that Deiter& Martina moved on early this year, 2008. I will miss that cold draft beer his restaurant offered)

Our group was leaving on the 9 am ferry so we loaded the baggage truck and made our way to the ferry landing. After the short crossing we loaded up the vans going to the airport for those catching their afternoon departures. We said our good-byes and checked in for our individual departing flights.

Isla Holbox is what I imagine Mexico was like 40 or 50 years ago. The place has a slow island pace of its own. Transport is an easy 3-hour air conditioned van ride through the Maya countryside. You can also take one of the new bus coaches leaving from Cancun. If you only want to go for a day, you can fly in a small plane from the Cancun airport to the grass runway on Holbox. You can only take about 10 kg. of luggage with you on that flight.

Isla Holbox is a magical place. In my almost 40 years of diving all over the world, I have never seen more Whale Sharks in one place at one time.

The big bonus here is that often Manta Rays are in the same area feeding on the abundant plankton.

This is a great family trip since you are using snorkel gear. Even if you are not a strong swimmer the guides will provide you with a life jacket and pull you through the water so you can get up close to one of these gentle giants. Season is mid June-mid August.

Doc Anes-San Diego Shark Diving Expeditions

 

Calderon And Wife Announce Drug Program

MP Mexico News Staff

Mexico City – June 27

President Felipe Calderón and his wife Margarita Zavala announced the National Information Campaign for a New Life to tell all Mexicans what they can and must do to prevent children and young people from succumbing to drug addiction.
As part of the International Day against the Illegal Use and Trafficking of Drugs, the President announced that this campaign will establish the bases for constructing a safe Mexico in which children and young people can grow up free and without addictions, which is one of the priorities for Federal Government.
Over a thousand town halls from every state in Mexico will participate in this Information Campaign through the DIF State Systems, in which parents will receive all the necessary information and orientation for combating addictions from an integral perspective.
Accompanied by the secretaries comprising the Security Cabinet, as well as those responsible for Health and Social Development, the President declared that drugs constitute a 21st century form of slavery. However, he added that the authorities will work without ceasing until they rescue Mexico from the grip of criminals and prevent them from taking over Mexican youth.
“But during this long, difficult battle, I would like you to know that in the unity of Mexicans, in the perseverance and deep love of our country professed by 105 million Mexicans, we will achieve  victory, because there are far more of use who wish for a Mexico in peace and free of drugs and violence,” stated Felipe Calderón.
He recalled that as part of the offensive, since the start of his administration, joint operations have been carried out in various states to dismantle the logistic and financial structures of criminal networks, which has permitted the confiscation of over 55 tons of cocaine, which would have been used to distribute 1,100 million doses, as well as the seizure of 16,000 firearms and $250 million USD, a world record for Mexico.
The president added that through the “Let’s Clean Up Mexico” Campaign, the authorities have managed to recover public spaces that were in the hands of criminals, there is greater control in schools and the program of addiction control and prevention is already underway because what is at stake is children’s future.
“And this national information campaign will help us all, because we will only be successful, if, in addition to the fact that we must have better governments, we must also be better citizens and parents. Parents who play a more active role and keep a close eye on what is happening at their children’s schools.”
Within this framework, the president praised members of the Armed Forces for their role in the joint operations for combating criminals in the various states throughout the country, even at the cost of their own lives.
“We know that we must fight the real criminals with all our strength and with a firm hand, as we are doing now, but at the same time, we must not treat young people or teenagers as criminals. It is a mistake to criminalize those who are merely the victims of boundless ambition and criminal perversion,” declared Calderón Hinojosa.
Ten thousand promoters will participate in this campaign and the goal is to attend 50,000 persons by December of this year.
Federal Government will invest $589,972,198 pesos, confiscated from drug traffickers, in the construction of 310 Medical Specialty Units (UNEMES) or New Life Primary Care Centers for Addictions in areas with the highest indices of drug consumption.
 

 

Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism joins CEO of NYC & CO. for Tourism Promotion in New York

MP Mexico News Staff

MEXICO’S SECRETARY OF TOURISM JOINS GEORGE FERTITTA, CEO OF NYC & CO.  FOR TOURISM PROMOTION IN NEW YORK

• Rodolfo Elizondo Torres, Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism visits NYC to promote new flights between Mexico and New York as well joint campaigns between both countries in Asia and Europe.

• CEO’s of the Mexico Tourism Board (MTB) and Mexico’s National Trust Fund for Tourism Development (FONATUR) are also joining the Secretary in this tour.

NEW YORK, NY- June 27th, 2008; — Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism, Rodolfo Elizondo Torres, joined CEO of New York City & Company, George Fertitta, on Wednesday, June 25th in New York City. During this meeting an agreement was made to promote Mexican destinations in New York City, in exchange for promotion of New York in the Mexican markets.

Mexico’s Secretary of tourism is also promoting new direct flights from New York to Mexico, Mexican destinations into the Big Apple, as well as joint campaigns between both Mexico and the US in Asia and Europe.

Elizondo-Torres, together with the CEO of the Mexico Tourism Board (MTB), Oscar Fitch Gomez, and of Mexico’s National Trust Fund for Tourism Development (FONATUR), Miguel Gomez Mont, the head of Sectur also joined George Fertitta, with whom he shared experiences of promoting large cities.

Meanwhile, New York City & Company presented their recent campaign “Just ask the locals,” where tourism promotion within the city is used through television and movie stars residing in NYC.

The Mexican officials also held a work meeting with Gogo-Liberty Travel, a tour operator with presence in 18,000 travel agencies in the US, which recently partnered with Flight Centre, a tour operator with presence in Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

With this alliance, Mexico will have the opportunity to increase its promotion in these markets, for which direct flights are offered to Mexico combined with destinations in the US such as New York.

During this business trip, Elizondo will also meet with the Mexico’s Consul General to New York, Ruben Beltran Guerrero, and will participate, by invitation of CNN, in the special program “Atraccion Turistica, las ventajas de Latinoamerica” (Tourism Attractions, the advantages of Latin America) a panel in which the competitive advantages of Mexico as the tourism leader of Latin America will be highlighted.  Meetings are also programmed with Jet Blue and Travel Impressions.

The Secretary of Tourism will conclude his activities in business meetings with the directors of the MTB office in New York where they will analyze the actions carried out in regards to cultural tourism as well as new promotion strategies for Mexico in New York, which is considered to be one of Mexico’s main markets.

About the Mexico Tourism Board
The Mexico Tourism Board (MTB) brings together the resources of federal and state governments, municipalities and private companies to promote Mexico’s tourism attractions and destinations internationally. Created in 1999, the MTB is Mexico’s tourism promotion agency, and its participants include members of both the private and public sectors. The MTB has offices throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America. 

Roots from the Past, Colors from the Present: Guelaguetza 2008

As the Zapotecs did thousands of years ago, today Oaxaca and its people are proud to continue the strong traditions and important beliefs of the Zapotecan culture: Guelaguetza 2008.

More than three thousands years ago, the Zapotecs offered a gift to their gods in exchange for rain needed for their harvest. Today, the people from Oaxaca are preparing the modern offer, the gift of perpetuation; the conservation of the roots and origins of a rich civilization through this meaningful festivity: Guelaguetza.

If you visit Oaxaca in July, you’ll be able to attend some of the Guelaguetza activities, although the main festivity takes place the last two Mondays of the month: the 21st and 28th of July. There are two presentations one at 10 a.m. and the other at 5:00 p.m. each Monday.

This is a celebration of color, folklore, arts; a festivity that gathers the eight regions of Oaxaca to share with the world their dances, traditions, handicrafts and customs.

The entire month of July has a calendar full of activities, ranging from parades, folkloric dances, masks exhibits to poetry from Oaxaca and conferences. This year, the Oaxaca Dance Company will be presenting a special show, “Sandunga”.

Among some other significant events of this years calendar will be the 2nd annual “Seven Moles Festival” where you can taste and receive an intensive course on the flavors and colors of this exquisite traditional Oaxacan dish.

Guelaguetza 2008 promises to be a colorful celebration that will represent the essence of a complex and authentic culture: Oaxaca.

Tickets are available at Ticketmaster. There is a whole area (section A and B) designated for national and international attendees. The area C and D is a free entry section for all the people from Oaxaca that will want to participate in the festivity.

More information at: www.oaxaca.travel

The Guns aren’t Guilty….Rising Mexican Drug Violence Fueled by Guns Smuggled From U.S.

By: Lisa Coleman

I am married to an avid hunter. We have guns in our home, in a gun safe. I own a gun. I don’t use it much because I’m such a miserable shot, but I do believe in the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms. I live in Arizona, a state where there is no waiting period to purchase a gun and no restrictions on the purchase of high-powered assault weapons, including how many may be bought at one time. Now that whole aspect of ownership, I am against. Nonetheless, the guns aren’t the guilty ones. They don’t get up and walk across the border themselves. They are sold, stolen and smuggled.

When discussing the “war on drugs” the finger always seems to point south, but it is simple economics people – supply and demand. And, no one seems to be talking much about the ammunition that keeps this battle raging.

Mexico’s drug cartels have turned increasingly violent as they fight back against President Felipe Calderon’s efforts to regain the upper hand in the country’s drug war. An analysis in the current issue of FLYP, a new online multimedia magazine (that can be accessed at www.flypmedia.com.) demonstrates the dramatic increase in the cartel’s firepower. Almost all of the weapons are bought in the U.S. and smuggled across the border.

“The cartels are arming themselves with .50-caliber sniper rifles, rocket launchers, fragmentation and gas grenades, and a wide range of assault weapons,” said Matthew Schaeffer, who wrote “Guns Without Borders.” “We documented Mexican government seizures this year alone of 900 heavy weapons, 270 handguns and 330 grenades — and everyone acknowledges this only scratches the surface of the cartels’ arsenals,” he continued.

According to the article on www.flypmedia.com, it’s all about the cash (shocking, I know). Anyway, guns that cost $200 – $300 in the U.S. can command $2,000 – $3,000 price tags in Mexico. As the article also discusses, “the two elephants in the room are the NRA and corruption.” In 2004, a ten-year year ban expired on the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons to civilians. Do the math on that one and I think the connection is rather obvious.

This is one of those topics that could go on forever, but for today, please go to www.flypmedia.com and read this very important article in its entirety. If we want to win the war, we may want to start by not handing out the weapons.  

On Another Topic

David Simmonds

Well, I was going to write about “how to Vacation Rent your home” in Mexico today, but my slippery mind keeps focusing on the news this morning of George Carlin’s death yesterday from a heart attack. So I’m going to depart from the Mexico theme today.

I’m not into idol worship, real or imagined, but I was a huge Carlin fan. He was a stand-up comedian, but more importantly, a stand-up guy. I have a short list of writers and public/private figures who have influenced and educated me.  The real education, the kind that shapes who you are and how you treat others. They range from my dad, to Steinbeck, Kerouac, Whitman, Jack and Bobby Kennedy, Hunter Thompson, Bob Dylan, and surely, George Carlin. With certainty, no other person was able to make me laugh out loud and search my soul in the same sentence. He was the rare brave patriot with the courage to loudly criticize our shortcomings because he thought we were better than we often acted. There wasn’t a muzzle strong enough silence George, and on some level we knew he always told the truth…even his detractors, of which there are many.

John Nichols of The Nation has a wonderful tribute to Carlin here http://www.thenation.com/blogs/thebeat/331953.  Or check out some of his concerts and appearances on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/. The dude was a genius and will be very hard to replace.