Mexico Rated 14th Best Destination for Conventions, by

Mexico Rated 14th Best Destination for Conventions

Mexico is ranked in 14th place worldwide as a prime location for congresses and conventions, according to an index of international partnership that rates these locations.

Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, Deputy Director-General of the Council of Tourism Promotion in Mexico (CPTM), reported that the authorities will continue to promote the development of congresses and conventions with the aim of increasing the number of foreign visitors. Meeting and convention tourism is an industry with “high potential to generate an important economic apportionment,” he said.

The average expenditure by international convention tourists in Mexico for July 2010 was $427 USD, an increase of 11.9% when compared to the same period of 2009.

The CPTM seeks to make Mexico a leading meeting tourism destination. Mexico maintains a strategic alliance with the International Association of Congress and Convention, making it easy to obtain information necessary to organize strategies with Mexico destinations, venues and associations in creating professional conferences and working together to attract these activities to Mexico.

Oaxaca Celebrates Radish Night

by Ron Mader

Gabino Cué, Noche de Rábanos, Oaxaca

Oaxaca – It’s good to have a governor who appreciates Flickr and the spectacle that is Radish Night!

Web 2.0
— the second generation of web-based services that emphasize user generated content, online collaboration and sharing among users — is increasingly being used by Mexican leaders in political, business and social circles AND by travelers seeking information that provides depth to mainstream coverage. In 2011 we’ll explore more of the specific applications in addition to the Mexico Now workshops in Mazatlan, Sinaloa and the Responsible Tourism Fair in Oaxaca.

Recommended listening: an audio tour of the Oaxaca zócalo on Radish Morning.

Delta Restarting Aeromexico Codeshare Flights

ATLANTA /PRNewswire/ — Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) on Dec. 29 will reinstate codeshare flights operated by SkyTeam partner Aeromexico following the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) decision to upgrade to Category 1 the rating of Mexico’s federal civil aviation authority.  This rating is required to allow codesharing by any U.S.-based airline on another international airline’s flights.

Flights will be available for purchase on Dec. 26 through all Delta ticketing channels.

The reinstated codesharing will connect Delta customers between 20 Mexican and nine U.S. airports on more than 125 Aeromexico and Aeromexico Connect flights. Reinstated codeshare cities include Acapulco, Campeche, Durango, Tampico, Veracruz, Morelia, La Paz, Merida, Chihuahua and Los Mochis.

“Delta and Aeromexico offer one of the most comprehensive networks between the United States and Mexico and we are pleased to be able to reinstate our full codeshare network with Mexico’s leading airline,” said Christophe Didier, Delta’s staff vice president of Sales and Affairs in Latin America and Caribbean.  “Our customers will soon be able to benefit from the same seamless ticketing and connections between Delta and Aeromexico flights they have long enjoyed.”

Delta removed its two letter “DL” code from Aeromexico flights earlier this year after the FAA downgraded the oversight rating of Mexico’s civil aviation authority to a Category 2.  The change temporarily prohibited U.S. airlines from offering codeshare service on any airline overseen by Mexican authorities.  On Dec. 1, the FAA announced that Mexico’s civil aviation authority had regained full compliance.

Aeromexico, like Delta, is a founding member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance.  The carriers link their schedules through codesharing, which enables customers to buy seats on the airlines interchangeably.

Delta Air Lines serves more than 160 million customers each year. With an industry-leading global network, Delta and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to 358 destinations in 66 countries on six continents. Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta employs more than 75,000 employees worldwide and operates a mainline fleet of more than 700 aircraft. A founding member of the SkyTeam global alliance, Delta participates in the industry’s leading trans-Atlantic joint venture with Air France-KLM and Alitalia. Including its worldwide alliance partners, Delta offers customers more than 13,000 daily flights, with hubs in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York-JFK, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Salt Lake City and Tokyo-Narita. The airline’s service includes the SkyMiles frequent flier program, the world’s largest airline loyalty program; the award-winning BusinessElite service; and more than 50 Delta Sky Clubs in airports worldwide. Customers can check in for flights, print boarding passes, check bags and review flight status at


CANCUN, Mx – December 20, 2010 – This winter, The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun invites guests to escape the cold amid the turquoise waters of the Caribbean with the exclusive Cancun A La Carte package. The sophisticated traveler can rejoice on a vacation designed to experience more with super added value including an upgrade and up to $500 daily resort credit.

Guests can take pleasure in the joy of Caribbean life at leisure selecting the recreational or dining experience of preference. Starting at $769 per night, the Cancun, A La Carte package allows guests to dine at any of the resort’s six restaurants, lounge in a private beach villa or relax with a luxurious spa treatment…Anything is possible while vacationing at the Caribbean oceanfront resort.

The Cancun, A la Carte package includes:

§  Overnight accommodations in a deluxe ocean view suite

§  Upgrade confirmed at the time of booking

§  $500 daily resort credit for use on food and beverage, spa and all recreational activities

§  The additional benefit of 20% off outlets throughout the hotel

The enticing offer is available from January 3rd through April 30th, 2011. The credit can be used at any of the resort’s six restaurants including Fantino and The Club Grill holding the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award, the Culinary Center, Kids Camp, Beach Villas, Spa or any other recreational activity on property. Credit can not be used toward the room rate.

About The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun
Considered one of the most elegant resorts in the world, The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun features 365 guestrooms overlooking the sea, a pristine white-sand beach, sculpted outdoor swimming pools, a full service Spa, a private Beach Club, an impressive Culinary Center and award winning restaurants. For more information contact the hotel directly at 52-998-881-0808, The Ritz-Carlton toll free reservations at 1 (800) 241-3333, your travel consultant or visit

Dates Announced for the 4th Annual Whale Shark Festival in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Swimming with Whale Sharks, Traditional Dancing and More
to Preserve a Fragile Marine Ecosystem

ISLA MUJERES, MEXICO – December 18, 2010 – Celebrating the beauty and culture of Isla Mujeres, Mexico, and championing the need to preserve a fragile marine ecosystem, ecotourism travel agency Ceviche Tours and the Isla Mujeres Department of Tourism announce the Fourth Annual Whale Shark Festival, a community extravaganza that showcases the achievements, the traditions and the environmental splendor of Isla Mujeres.

The Festival will be held July 15-17, 2011 in Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Last year thousands flocked to the family-friendly Whale Shark Festival, which offers guests an opportunity to participate in ecotourism adventures such as swimming with whale sharks, the largest fish in the ocean and an endangered species; traditional dancing performed by local troupes; exploring ancient Mayan ruins and much more.

A portion of the Festival proceeds will be donated to several environmental not-for-profit organizations.

Sustainable Ecotourism

The Whale Shark Festival is an effort to raise awareness for the need to preserve the area’s marine ecosystem.  Isla Mujeres is part of the second largest barrier reef on the planet, and serves as the nursery of the Caribbean and the migratory path of whale sharks, sea turtles, water foul and game fishes.

“Sustainable eco-tourism engages guests in the effort to preserve the culture of Isla Mujeres, their way of life and the marine environment,” said John Vater, who co-founded Ceviche Tours with his wife, Adriana, and longtime friend and Isla Mujeres native Luis “Cuco” Refugio and his family.

Swim with 200+ Whale Sharks

Kicking off the Festival will be the whale shark bloom, when hundreds of these gentle giants will come together to swim in a group near the coast of Isla Mujeres.  As many as 1,400 whale sharks may make their way through the waters north of Isla Mujeres every summer, according to Dr. Robert Hueter, Director of the Center for Shark Research, Mote Marine Laboratory and scheduled speaker at the 2011 Whale Shark Festival.

Exciting Activities for the Whole Family

Guests of the Festival can participate in a wide array of activities:

Swimming with Whale Sharks — Guests can swim with whale sharks and join an effort by Project Domino, a conservation program implemented by the Mexican government, to protect and preserve these graceful creatures.  Guests can add their underwater photos of the whale sharks to Project Domino’s visual database of the unique markings, or spots, that can identify individual whale sharks and track them.  Images from the Project Domino regional database are shared with a global database from nonprofit Ecocean.

“International events, and especially those such as the Whale Shark Festival which have a strong local element as well, are absolutely essential to increase the conservation culture through environmental education,” noted Rafael de la Parra, Lead Marine Biologist for Project Domino, a Festival sponsor.

Fun for Families — The Festival will feature activities for kids to learn about helping the environment.  “Educating children about the importance of recycling, showing them how they can get involved to protect the marine environment and its biodiversity — with beach cleanups, and just the choices they make every day – is vital to our future,” said Catalina Galindo de Prince, Executive Director of the nonprofit Amigos de Isla Contoy, A.C., also a Festival sponsor.

Academic Seminars and Film Showcase

Scientists from around the world will attend to present a series of Academic Seminars on marine biology, sustainable ecotourism and Mayan architecture.

Booking Travel

Travel arrangements and bookings for whale shark tours can be made through the Ceviche Tours Website (

For More Information

For a complete listing of 2011 Whale Shark Festival activities and for more information, visit or

A Night at the Opera… and Mazatlán’s Cultural Appeal

By: Lisa Coleman

I have been lucky to have travelled enough of Mexico to have experienced some pretty extraordinary things. But spending an evening at the opera in Mazatlán certainly ranked among the top. Olivia Gorra was born in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz has been distinguished by the Mexican Critics’ Union for Music and Theater as Mexico’s most important soprano. She debuted as  Liù in Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and last month she took the stage at the famed Angela Peralta Theater in Mazatlán’s charming city center. And I got to be there! What an amazing evening…

 We were in town for the Gran Fiesta Amigos de Mazatlán celebration hosted by the Mazatlán Hotel Association. Everything was perfect, as usual, but the invitation to the opera was an unexpected surprise. The performance took place at the remarkable Angela Peralta Theater, which has been restored in recent years to its European-style grandeur. Originally named the Rubio Theater, the structure was built in the 1870’s. In 1883, the famous Mexican opera singer, Angela Peralta (known as the Nightingale of Mexico), arrived in the city for a performance. The people of Mazatlán were so enamored of this songbird that the name was changed in her honor. The colorful interior is perfectly resurrected and true to the architectural influences of the period. In addition to countless scheduled events throughout the year, the theater is open daily to the public for tours.  Yes, first-class theater and fine arts do exist in Mexico!

Ms. Gorra sang to a full house and tears flowed openly as she stood on the stage with only her maestro and the grand piano to join her. Her dress depicted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and she was completely flawless. The show was filled with traditional Mexican favorites elevated to a new level with her pitch perfect voice. She rounded out the evening with pure operatic pieces from a number of well known shows. I was completely awe-struck and so honored to have witnessed such an event.

After the show, the “in” crowd heads to Pedro + Lola, a hip restaurant with live jazz that sits catty corner to the esteemed theater. It’s a measure of Mazatlán’s laid-back appeal that after the sold-out show, the undeniably gorgeous Ms. Gorra joined the stream of opera-goers for a late night dinner without a retinue or a handler, and graciously posed for pictures with strangers.
It proves, once again, there’s more than meets in the eye in most of Mexico’s beach towns.

Often called the “Pearl of the Pacific,” Mazatlán is one of Mexico’s oldest and most popular beach resorts. Though it has grown considerably over the past decade, it is certainly not as commercial as its booming coastal counterparts. Residing on the coast where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, this is one of the closest major Mexican resort to the United States and Canada.

 As with most beach resorts, the beauty of the culture and the depth of the people can only be experienced when you step back and discover that it’s the time away from the beach that really introduces you to the heart and soul of a city. Mazatlán isn’t a manufactured resort community; it is “real” Mexico. The people are warm and welcoming and the city is steeped in more history than any other destination along the Pacific coast. The Spanish began to establish settlements here after gold and silver were discovered in the nearby Sierra foothills. From there, Colonial-era coastal development began to prosper and the port of Mazatlán served as both an export hub and provision station for the Spanish Galleons returning from Asia with spices, silks and other exotic goods. The result: a cultural and historical gold mine.

Often overlooked by tourists, the center of the city is referred to as “Old Mazatlán.” This spotless 20-block salute to history is a surprise to say the least. The government has worked very hard to restore the area to its original splendor and charm, and I think you’ll be very impressed with what they have accomplished.

“Old Mazatlán” has maintained its 19th century ambiance and will give you the sensation of being taken back in time. I would suggest getting up very early and beginning your trek towards old town by taking a stroll along the Malecon (the palm-lined waterfront promenade). Almost immediately you will begin to feel that you have left tourism behind and embarked on a day of discovery and history.  This seaside walk will take you by the local fishermen sorting through their morning catch, past quaint restaurants, shops and eventually into the heart of “Old Mazatlán.” The renovated city center still has all the style and magic it did centuries ago. Shady trees, iron benches, and beautifully restored buildings surround the Plaza Marchado (old town square). It’s something you wouldn’t expect from your average beach town. (Note:  There are also several fascinating stores in the area that specialize in Mardi Gras masks for the city’s pre-Lenten Carnival celebration in late February or early March. Dating back to 1898, this Mexican Mardi Gras is one of the largest in the world.)

A few blocks away, palm trees and more colonial buildings surround Mazatlán’s renovated (and more modern) Main Square and Plaza Revolución. Usually bustling with people, this popular gathering place is also adjacent to one of the region’s most striking cathedrals. Construction began on the basilica in 1856 and was completed in 1899. This fascinating Moorish church has twin blue and gold spires and a gilded ornate triple altar. Also nearby is the city’s spectacular mercado (market), a true Mexican experience and a must for anyone interested in immersing themselves in the local culture. Hundreds of brightly colored fruits, vegetables, chilies, and flowers make for a visual feast. And, in a town whose lifeblood revolves around the ocean, the displays of fresh fish and shrimp are seemingly endless (and the prices are fantastic too).  The sights, sounds, aromas and character of this marketplace truly express the magic of the people and passion they embrace in their everyday lives.

Yes, it’s true, Mazatlán is indeed a thriving beach resort, but next time you plan to visit, take some time to glimpse into the heart of the culture. There’s a whole new world on the “other side” of this pacific gem.