Jimm Budd’s News From D.F.

The Next Tianguis II

Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit will host the next Tianguis tourism trade show, to be followed by Puebla and Quintana Roo (Cancun and the Riviera Maya). Vallarta, in Jalisco, and the neighboring Riviera in Nayarit are neighbors separated by a river and, if you want to get technical, they lie in adjoining time zones. No dates were announced. The event over the past 36 years has been held in March, April, May and June. Vallarta and its neighbor won by offering nearly 50,000 square feet of exhibition space free of charge, 50 percent discounts at hotels before, after and during the event, and more. This will be the first time the trade show has not been held in Acapulco.


The marine population of the Cabo Pulmo National Underwater Park has quadrupled since fishing was banned there 14 years ago. The park lies off the tip of the Baja California peninsula. It remains open to scuba diving and snorkeling. The increase in wildlife has been confirmed by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California.

Whale sharks

A new favorite with tourists is Holbox Island, reached by boat from Cancun. Aside from being pristine, and, until recently, almost undiscovered, Holbox also is an ideal place to swim with whale sharks. Whale sharks can be 40 feet long or more, making them the world’s biggest fish. Like real whales, they eat only plankton and other small creatures, making them no threat to scuba-diving tourists.

Gloria’s back!

Tourism Minister Gloria Guevara has returned home after a promotional trip that took her to half-a-dozen U.S. cities. Although the U.S. State Department recently predicted that, as a result of current economic problems, the number of Americans traveling abroad will decline by 40 percent, Ms Guevara expects travel to Mexico will increase. She noted that all airlines have  reported more passengers flying to Mexico, with Delta announcing that its increase had been 57 percent.

Posadas plans more hotels

Posadas de México will be opening about one hotel every month next year, according to Pablo Azcárraga, general director of the organization. Planned between now and 2015 are 20 low-priced “One” brand inns, 14 Fiesta Inns and six Fiesta Americanas. The company also will be expanding its holdings in Panama, Brazil and Chile.

Iberostar buys Cancun Hilton

Spain’s Iberostar has purchased the landmark Cancun Hilton and plans to close the the 426-room property in August, reopening it in December after extensive renovations. Iberostar will be the third flag to fly over the resort, the only Cancun hotel with its own golf course on the premises.

Changing the Face of Mexico – A Conversation with Jorge Gamboa from the Mexico Tourism Board

By Lisa Coleman

Recently, I had an opportunity to sit down with Jorge Gamboa, the Director of the Mexico Tourism Board (MTB) in Los Angeles. The MTB is the key player in establishing a base with  Mexico’s travel partners in the United States and serves as ongoing support for the marketing efforts and outreach to tourists.  It was interesting to hear his perspective on tourism and how the numbers (not the headlines) tell the real story of Mexico’s ongoing success in bringing visitors to this extraordinary country.

How did you get started in tourism and the MTB?
I am from the beautiful city of Merida in Yucatan. I had always wanted to share the treasures of my country so I got involved with my state tourism office. I soon became the head of the tourism board for Yucatan and was later asked to join the MTB in their Houston office.  I have been at the MTB in Los Angeles since 2000, but in the tourism business in Mexico for more than 27 years.

Tell me about the MTB and how it works?
The Mexico Tourism Board is under the umbrella of SECTUR (Secretaría de Turismo). We are funded by the taxes gathered from foreign visitors, not the federal government.  We have 18 offices worldwide, including five in the U.S. – Washington D.C., New York, Miami, Atlanta and Los Angeles. There is a Director in each office who handles the states by region. Our philosophy is to build relationships with travel partners. We know that is a key to our success. Despite the surge of online travel options for tourists, the MTB puts a lot of weight on working with travel agents, airlines, and associations. We have always been about the face-to-face connection.  It is very important when selling the image (and now safety) of Mexico that we promote in person in both primary and secondary markets. I attend more than 80 events a year to personally meet travel agents, and other travel partners to establish relationships for Mexico.

In the last two years, you have been up against some difficult press, how do you address this with your travel partners and how does this influence the marketing strategy for Mexico?
We focus on our country’s infrastructure and ongoing success in tourism. Over 22 million people visited Mexico last year, so we must be doing something right! We are proactive with our message and know that we aren’t alone in our effort.

We demonstrate to our travel partners that we have strength in numbers and that we have the resources to bring travel agents, airlines, meeting planners and tour operators together to commit to selling Mexico.  Despite what you read and hear, the numbers tell the story.  According to Perspectives on Tourism (a survey that was produced by the credit card company Visa), the average amount of money spent in Mexico by foreign visitors increased by 12% last year, compared with 2009.

As far as our marketing strategy, we know it is a constant push.  It is imperative that we present the best of Mexico by offering unique travel opportunities for visitors from around the world. And, at this time, the prices around the country have never been more inviting. Families can travel to Mexico at a tremendous bargain and people are taking advantage of the packages that are available right now.

We are reaching our audience through multi-media channels. We now have a number of programs going on via the internet and blogging, as well as more traditional advertising on television and in print. Our goal is to educate tourists who are considering Mexico. One of the most important aspects is helping travelers to know the geography. If visitors become more aware of the location of the tourist areas, they will see they are generally located far from the areas of violence. And, that most of the incidences you read about in the U.S. papers are isolated incidents.

The MTB also sponsors a number of travel agent seminars and online learning programs so our partners can pass their expertise and knowledge to the end user, giving Mexico a more informed tourist base. This platform continues to be very successful.  We also strive to teach agents and visitors about our amazing culture. Our beaches are fantastic, everyone knows that, but it’s the culture of Mexico that is so very special. The traditions, the food and the people…there is just so much here to share.

You mentioned the infrastructure… can you tell me what is happening in Mexico to demonstrate the progress?
The Secretary of Tourism, Gloria Guevara, has been touring the United States spreading the word about Mexico’s success. This year there has been a 127% increase in tourism investment.  Flights continue to increase so the airlines are growing with us. In 2010, the private sector invested $3.5 billion dollars in tourism projects in Mexico, representing an increase of 19.2 % compared with 2009. The industries that received the most private investment were hospitality with $1.6 billion dollars and real estate with $1.1 billion. Those are pretty impressive numbers for any country. Those investments help to develop 869 projects, compared to 500 projects in 2009.  That is in increase of 73.8 %. That is the real story. And these are the kinds of things that will change the face of Mexico forever.

From a personal perspective, how do you see Mexico coming through these struggles?
I believe that all Mexicans love their country, and as a society, we want to live in peace. We want a future for our families. For the first time in many years, the government is providing tools to help and I see our people standing together. If we stay in this direction, we can make the changes we need. It’s a battle of scale, and in the end, I know Mexico will win.



Disclosure: I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the México Today Program. All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own. Mexico Today is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination.

Sustainable Mexico

By David Simmonds

The most widely quoted definition of sustainable-related issues I can find is “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

That sums it up pretty well. Fortunately, Mexico has a clear vision of their responsibility as a country to investigate and implement policies that adhere to this absolutely necessary and wise principle.

One example is the Mexican Housing Authority’s estimate that the country has a deficit today of nearly nine million homes with that number increasing by 200,000 every year. Additionally, undeniable climate change is resulting in higher temperatures and lower rainfalls. Mexico realizes that they must convert from a carbon-intensive to a carbon-neutral society sooner than later. Producing sustainable housing is a clear target with the use of ecological materials, as well as creating a social fabric that improves the quality of life for its citizens. A more efficient use of energy and water in these new and existing communities will help to meet long-term sustainable goals.

There are many other areas of sustainability that are being addressed, including the preservation of the forests, and especially the seas, that are so important to the long-term wellness of the people and the economy. The world’s oceans have been over-fished for decades, with Mexico’s fish-rich waters no exception. Long-liner boats and huge net fishing vessels have been terribly destructive to fish populations, resulting in regulations aimed at preservation. Tuna, shrimp and shark populations are dwindling at a rapid rate, harming not only the economy, but a way of life for hundreds of thousands of people lining the 6,000 miles of Mexico coastline.

Sustainable travel, or eco-tourism, has been a growing segment of the Mexico travel industry for at least 20 years. Tim Means’ Baja Expeditions, based in La Paz, Baja California Sur, is a prime example of the success and interest in this travel market (http://www.bajaex.com/). And Ron Mader has been an industry leader for many years (http://www.planeta.com/) doing very good work.

On a personal level, I have a non-profit called One Town At A Time (www.onetownatatime.com) whose mission statement is below. Our present project is to buy computers for schools in rural Cabo Corrientes in Jalisco. Education is a major ingredient as a means of informing future generations as to the challenges and goals that will propel the country towards sustainability. I can think of nothing more important for Mexico’s future.

The mission of One Town At A Time is to address the living conditions of poor villages in Mexico by providing families in these areas with tools for achieving sustainability. This is the ideal way to ameliorate the immigration pattern in the United States which currently encourages villagers to cross the border to earn money to send back to their families. By providing villagers with tools for addressing their poverty, they can remain in their villages, sustain a sense of family and community structure, and cultivate pride in their way of life. One Town At A Time shares and provides the technology that enhances the ability of villagers in Mexico to improve and expand their current farming, trade, and communication practices in a way that honors their rich cultural heritage and brings them closer to the global socioeconomic realm.

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Contributor for the México Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own. Mexico Today is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination.






Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort & Spa to Host Photo Competition

Photographers Compete by Land and Sea to Capture the Natural Beauty of Cozumel Island



The pristine beaches of Cozumel and its Caribbean blue waters teeming with sea life provide the ideal backdrop for professional and non-professional photographers seeking the Best Picture in the “Cozumel Photo Shootout” hosted by the Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort & Spa, November 15 – 20, 2011.

Registration for the five-day event is US$264 per person per night which includes deluxe accommodations at the Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort & Spa, Shootout registration fee, three days of land or diving tours, breakfast, a welcome reception, farewell dinner, taxes and resort service fee. Double occupancy rates are US$176 per person per night.

Event registration is available online at www.cozumelphotoshootout.com.

A total of US$15,000 will be awarded for the top three photos: Best Overall Picture, Best Land Picture and Best Underwater Picture.

Judges for this year’s competition include award-winning photographers Ty Sawyer and Michele Benoy-Westmorland.

Sawyer’s images have appeared in such publications as National Geographic Traveler and Saveur. He is also the television host of Another Shade of Blue: On Assignment with Ty Sawyer in which he travels to the planet’s most remote destinations in search of the perfect shot.

Nature photographer and expedition leader Michele Benoy-Westmorland was inducted into the 2011 Women Divers Hall of Fame. Her photography credits include Scuba Diving, Elite and National Geographic Traveler.

Recognized globally by its colorful coral reefs, Cozumel’s land ecosystems also provide a range of photo opportunities with endemic birds, reptiles and mammals, as well as incomparable tropical landscapes not found in other parts of the Caribbean.

“Shootout” participants may choose land or scuba diving tours or a combination of both included in the registration fee. Experience private reef tours led by resident underwater photography experts Jose Luis Aragon and Nacho Gil where participants will enjoy capturing colorful corals, turtles, octopus, and fish on camera.

Land expeditions include a boat tour through the Montecristo Lagoon with its labyrinth of mangroves. Or, explore the Punta Sur Ecological Park which features a lookout tower to spot crocodiles, iguanas and dune vegetation.

In addition to photographic expeditions, participants will enjoy workshops, presentations and expositions. To cap off the four-day event, a slide show of photo entries will be presented at the awards dinner.

For reservations and information, call toll free from the USA (800) 327-0200 or visit www.cozumelphotoshootout.com. Travelers to Cozumel enjoy non-stop service from Houston, Dallas and Chicago.


Mexico through Different Eyes

By Lisa Coleman

It’s tough for investors around the world this week. The instability of the U.S. and other world markets is getting the usual heavy press. Gloom and doom at the click of a mouse… But maybe you need to look a bit further south for some good news. While diligently battling the headlines of drug violence, Mexico is quietly making huge strides.

In the eyes of global investors, Mexico is hardly the pariah painted in the news. Their economy has grown 5.5% in the first quarter of this year and, aaccording to the head of the Treasury and Public Finance Secretariat (SHCP), Ernesto Cordero Arroyo, between January and July of this year, 425,819 jobs were created in Mexico. That represents an increase of 2.9 % compared to 2010.
Here are some other tidbits you may find interesting.

• According to Gloria Guevara, the Secretary of Tourism, there has been a 127% increase in tourism investment.

• International Finance Corporation (IFC), the institution for private sector of the World Bank Group (WB) will provide $25 million dollars for a fund managed by Artha Capital to invest in real estate in Mexico. “The amount is intended to create communities developed under standards of environmentally friendly construction. The project includes the acquisition of land for planned urban projects and basic infrastructure for housing, tourism, industrial and commercial developments.”

• According to the Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), Mexican manufacturing grew at an annual rate of 6.8% in May, and continues to be the spearhead of the Mexican economy.

• According to the state-run news agency Notimex, “Mexico’s mining industry will attract record investment of $4.73 billion this year. The industry is forecast to receive investment of $4.48 billion next year, according to the chamber. Sergio Almazan, executive director of the chamber, said about half of the investment comes from foreign companies, mostly from the U.S.,” Notimex said.

• According to Energy Solutions,  Mexico announced on a $2.5 billion investment in new wind farms to generate more than 300MW of electricity across the country, part of the government’s push to expand renewable energy.  “San Diego-based Cannon Power Group, which already works in the Baja California peninsula, will build another project there along with a plant in the central state of Zacatecas and in southern Quintana Roo, home to popular tourist resort Cancun.”

• General Motors plans to invest approximately $900 million in its manufacturing plants in the country.

• According to Bloomberg.com, Honda Motor Co., Japan’s third-largest automaker, plans to invest at least $500 million to build a car factory in Mexico.The plant will likely be located in Salamanca, a city in the central state of Guanajuato, and construction would begin next year, El Financiero reported (citing Mexican Economy Ministry officials it didn’t identify by name). Honda already has a plant in Mexico’s southwestern state of Jalisco, according to its website.

There are stories like this every week that demonstrate over and over again that Mexico is a real player in the world marketplace.  Despite the struggles, Mexico trudges on… building, growing and making an impact on their own future.


Disclosure: I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the México Today Program. All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own. Mexico Today is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination.

Sagrada Wellness Mexico, San Miguel de Allende Welcomes New Owners

Boutique Retreat New Hot Spot for Celebrities, Artists, Writers

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – August 1, 2011 –Sagrada Wellness Mexico, located in the picturesque mountains overlooking the city of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico is changing hands and welcoming new owners, Blair Shurtleff and Shane Hayward. An all-inclusive, luxury boutique resort and spa, Sagrada Wellness specializes in yoga and Pilates retreats plus restorative and wellness vacations in Mexico.

“We are very excited about this new venture,” said Blair Shurtleff who has more than 27 years in the hospitality business and also owns several other properties including the luxurious, beachfront Casa Pericos in Yelapa (Puerto Vallarta), Jalisco.

Co-owner Shane Hayward is a certified massage therapist and will manage day-to-day spa and wellness treatment operations for the resort.

“Guests can expect to be treated like family here, while relaxing in one of the most peaceful and sacred places in the world,” said Shurtleff.  “They’ll enjoy soothing sounds of nature, high desert refreshing atmosphere and expansive vistas just above the world famous, UNESCO city of San Miguel de Allende.”

Exciting upgrades are being planned such as three new private casitas, a lounge library and a soaking pool for watsu, a soothing type of massage that takes place in warm, waist-deep water. New retreats and workshops will also include “voluntourism” opportunities, writer and actor retreats, gal or guy getaways, corporate retreats, weddings, honeymoons and more. The picturesque yoga pavilion, with breathtaking views, will be used for special events and activities.

With consistently stellar ratings on Trip Advisor, Sagrada Wellness Mexico was ranked among the top 10 Best Bed & Breakfasts in San Miguel de Allende. New owners Shurtleff and Hayward are excited to take the service up to new levels by introducing a new ‘Daycation’ VIP program which invites locals to visit for the day to enjoy meals, participate in yoga and take advantage of the facilities.

Guests will enjoy three gourmet meals per day, along with daily yoga class, time in the mesquite fired sauna, WiFi and the option to visit nearby hot springs or the charming town of San Miguel de Allende.

Sagrada Wellness Mexico will be offering specials including complimentary spa services, massages and other perks with each booking, now until the end of August.

For rates, reservations or more information, visit us on Facebook, Twitter or at http://www.sagradawellnessmexico.com.

Mazatlán Sets Stage for 2011 Gran Fiesta Amigos, Oct. 31 – Nov. 3

–17th Annual Celebration Spotlights Authentic Culture, Cuisine and New Cosmopolitan Flair–

MAZATLÁN, Mexico (August 3, 2011) – The Pacific Coast city of Mazatlán kicks off the Fall travel season in grand style with its 2011 Gran Fiesta Amigos celebration, taking place Oct. 31 – Nov. 3.

With festive music, cultural events and delicious cuisine, this “Big Festival of Friends” promises a vibrant welcome for honored travel partners – including the wholesalers, tour operators, airlines, incentive companies, journalists, tourism dignitaries and friends of Mazatlán who continue to support the ongoing growth of this seaside destination.

Mazatlán recently celebrated a new partnership with the launch of American Airlines’ daily non-stop service from Dallas-Fort Worth, boosting tourism revenue by more than $15 million USD and affording new travel options for the more than 2 million travelers who visit Mazatlán each year.  Earlier this summer, the destination’s legendary waves and golden-sand beaches hosted the world’s top surf athletes for the Quiksilver Clásico Mazatlán, a four-star event of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) international tour.

“Mazatlán’s rich culture and unrivalled hospitality sets our city apart from other destinations,” says Carlos Berdegue, vice president, Mazatlán Hotel Association and Tourism Board. “Visitors here enjoy beautiful weather and Pacific Coast sunsets alongside a lively historic center, renowned cuisine and premier resorts. There’s also top-ranked spas, championship golf and year-round events. We are committed to showcasing the many sides of Mazatlán and look forward to making 2011 Fiesta Amigos the best ever.”

The 17th annual Gran Fiesta Amigos is presented by the City of Mazatlán, the Mazatlán Hotel Association and the State of Sinaloa. Among the highlights of this year’s celebration:

• Arts and Culture – During Fiesta Amigos, Old Mazatlán’s neoclassical Angela Peralta Theater and lively Plaza Machado host lively dinners and performances by internationally acclaimed artists. Visit ornate Day of the Dead altars, and enjoy walking tours of Old Mazatlán restaurants, boutique shops, galleries, jazz clubs, museums and arts schools.

• Scenic Excursions – Fiesta Amigos will feature tours of picturesque Colonial towns located in the Sierra Madre foothills just outside Mazatlán, such as Copala, El Quelite and La Noria. Visitors can savor authentic regional cuisine, visit workshops featuring local artisans, and explore 17th-century artwork, archeological museums, churches and historic sites dating back to the 1500s.

• Outdoor Recreation – Recognized worldwide as a first-class fishing destination, Mazatlán hooks anglers in pursuit of big game like sailfish, marlin and tuna that teem in the waters just offshore. Fiesta Amigos will also offer tee times at world-class courses, including El Cid Golf & Country Club’s Lee Travino championship course; Estrella Del Mar, a Robert Trent Jones design, and the new Marina Mazatlan Golf Course designed by David Fleming.

• Cosmopolitan Resort Amenities – In the beachfront Golden Zone resort district, guests will savor fresh Pacific seafood and breathtaking ocean views. Mazatlán’s cosmopolitan resorts and award-winning restaurants host dinner galas and cocktail receptions, as well as vibrant entertainment and nightlife.

• Professional Development – The destination’s state-of-the-art Mazatlán Internation Center hosts a full schedule of business events for travel partners. On November 1, a keynote breakfast presentation will spotlight distinguished travel industry guests and a featured speaker.

For more information on attending 2011 Fiesta Amigos and this year’s highlights, please visit http://www.gomazatlan.com.
About Mazatlán
Mazatlán is located on Mexico’s Pacific Coast at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains. As Mexico’s second largest coastal city, Mazatlán has nearly 440,000 inhabitants. The city is divided into two main areas: Old Mazatlán or Historic District and Zona Dorada or Golden Zone, with a seven-mile coastal road between the two.  Mazatlán has an international sport-fishing reputation. Sites of interest include: the Angela Peralta Theater, Archeological Museum, Plazuela Machado, Sea Shell Museum, Mazatlán Aquarium, The Cathedral and the world’s second-tallest lighthouse. Transportation is available via the local “pulmonías” or four-person open-air vehicles that have become a symbol of the city. Visit Mazatlán on the World Wide Web at http://www.GoMazatlan.com.