PHOTO: The 2017 Tianguis Turistico welcome — Mexico's 60-plus indigenous languages. (photo by Lydia Gregory)
Mexico’s iconic Tianguis Turístico—back in Acapulco for 2017—centered around the expected mix of business meetings and eye-popping displays, but this year’s event also brought in a new topic of conversation:
The importance of tech, trends and social media for Mexico’s tourism.
During a conference on how digital technology is changing the face of tourism, Mexico Tourism Board CEO, Lourdes Berho unveiled the new platform for the visitmexico.com. The site received a complete overhaul that not only includes a new look but a back-end system that can identify user preferences according to how they share on social media, using Big Data to adjust the offerings to what users are looking for.
During the presentation, Jorge Ruiz, Director of Facebook Mexico, also pointed to the importance for destinations and tourism providers to be a part of the digital ecosystem.
Taking a green cue from the UN’s declaration of 2017 as the "International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development", the event organizers took a series of actions making this the very first Tianguis to be carbon neutral.
Among the initiatives was the selection of the Silver EarthCheck-certified Expo Mundo Imperial Acapulco Diamante as host for the event; offering the event program and other information online and via their app to save paper; exhorting exhibitors to choose technology over paper, adequately disposing of their trash and more.
The event also generated a new tagline for the Mexico Tourism Board’s promotional efforts, inspired by the words of UN World Tourism Organization General Secretary Taleb Rifai, a special guest of President Enrique Peña Nieto during the inaugural ceremonies.
An avid admirer of Mexico, whose comments regarding the concept of open borders during the World Trade Market in London have been heard by millions thanks to social media, Rifai referred to Mexico as “a world unto itself.” That description resonated with Lourdes Behro, who presented it as the official tagline during her closing speech. Mr. Rifai was also named Honorary Ambassador for Life of the Mundo Maya.
On the final night of the event, Acapulco authorities “passed the baton” to those representing Mazatlan, the chosen destination for the 2018 Tourism Tianguis.
READ MORE: Six Best Things to Do on a Cruise Stop in Mazatlan
Mazatlan is already preparing to become the focus of the tourism industry next year. In an interview with Edna Yadira Gutierrez, (Director of Tourism Promotion for the state of Sinaloa), Jose Alberto Ureña Trujillo (CEO of the Mazatlan International Center) and Silvestre Carvajal (Sales Director for Don Pelayo and Royal Villas) indicated large infrastructure investments are already underway.
This includes a sort of rebirth for the destination, sparked by new connectivity that includes additional flights from Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas and Minnesota, along with five new hotels (Holiday Inn, Marriott, and Sleep Inn, among others) added to the already strong offering of 6,000 four- and five-star accommodations ready to welcome attendees, exhibitors and buyers next year.
“During the year, we will also be working to ensure our service providers are prepared as well, offering workshops and training to everyone from housekeeping staff to the transportation, public, urban and tourism services and restaurants,” commented Ms. Gutierrez.
“It’s not just because Tianguis is coming,” mentioned Mr. Carvajal.
“We’ve been hard at work since our occupancy dropped a few years ago and we had to strategize. Part of the plan was the Convention Center, training sessions for providers and attracting recognizable brands to the destination. In the past, 90% of the hotels were domestic, operated by their owners. Today it’s still at 80%, and that’s a peculiarity of Mazatlan. It’s one of our greatest attractions, as it makes our guests more like family and gives us a high rate of return clients.
"It’s a very local, very accessible destination, where locals, as well as tourists, frequent the restaurants and attractions, giving our guests a unique experience where they’re not segregated into a ‘tourist zone.’”
READ MORE Deals to Maximize Your Mexico Weekend Getaway
Tianguis by the numbers
This year’s event showed notable growth over 2016 (final numbers are still being tallied):
10,000 attendees – +6%
44,312 business meetings – +35%
1,608 Buyers – +29%
973 tourism companies – +37%
88 countries participating – 9 more than 2016
3 honored guest invitees: Houston, Pacific Alliance and Canada
#TianguisTuristico hashtag was Trending Topic in Mexico for 14 hours and 1.5 hours on a global level, all positive comments
Improved connectivity of five states in the Mundo Maya plus Oaxaca and Guerrero to enhance the new Maya World Tourism project