PHOTO: Acapulco, home of the Tianguis Turístico trade fair. (photo via Flickr/Prayitno)
If it’s March and you sell Mexico, it’s time to seriously consider a trip to Acapulco.
That’s because Mexico’s annual Tianguis Turístico trade fair returns to its ancestral home (Acapulco) from March 27-30. If you haven’t been to Acapulco since the days of The Love Boat, this four-day extravaganza can get you back selling the place where 20th century tourism got its start.
Tianguis (a nahuatl word for “market”) got its start in Acapulco in 1975 and stayed here for the next 36 years, before started to move around Mexico back in 2012. The pattern now has the host city rotating in even numbered years (the 2018 host is Mazatlán), so there’s nothing odd about turning the focus back to Acapulco in 2017. Totally original and still very much relevant, Acapulco is again ready to stage the country’s singular tourism extravaganza.
If you sell leisure vacations, tip your hat to this spectacular natural harbor. Acapulco is the birthplace of mass tourism, starting in the 1930’s and gaining speed after WWII. It gave the world such iconic vacation standards as the swim-up bar, the disco, hotels with private pools, and a 24/7 pulse that few places have ever matched.
“But wait,” some of you are saying. “No one goes to Acapulco these days.” If you look in your GDS for non-stop international flights to ACA, you’d only confirm your conviction; there is but one (from Houston). But, the dearth of international airline interest belies that fact that Acapulco is STILL Mexico’s most visited beach destination.
That’s because any Mexican worth his or her identity still calls Acapulco the number one place to vacation and party. This fact may never change, as highway access, buses and domestic flights continue to pour into and fill the destination’s over 30,000 sleeping rooms.
I won’t write the words “rebound” or “new face” or “improved” in describing Acapulco’s future. We’ve all been reading about this since the 1980’s. Let’s just say city and federal authorities are committed to improving the city’s number one challenge: safety for its citizens. Acapulco, its citizens and its reputation has been battered by wave after wave of narco versus narco street violence. Foreign vacationers are not part of this tragedy, nor will they ever be. But getting Acapulco back into client conversations will require a well-informed corps of savvy, confident agent supporters.
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What there’s no disputing is how 21st-century Acapulco is striving to lure back luxury international visitors. That’s evident by the resort’s enhanced infrastructure (a new tunnel will connect the Diamante area with the Costera), the opening of new resorts (from Posadas, Mundo Imperial, Carlos Slim retail complex) and bringing downtown/Caleta back to its Hollywood heyday glory.
It’s hardly the time to throw in the towel on Acapulco. Better to pack your towel and get down here during a very enlightening week of Tianguis festivities.
Learn how to attend at tianguisturisticomexico.com.mx/en
Greg Custer is Managing Director, Mexico and Latin America for travAllilancemedia; he resides in Chapala, Jalisco