Mexico is a magician when it comes to putting on a show. Fita’s 2012 International Tourism Fair of the Americas at Mexico City’s artistically- staged Expo Bancomer Santa Fe, September 20 -23, was no exception. Domestic and international travel and tourism professionals from around the globe participated in this third annual event, promoting and establishing business and cultural exchanges. Special pavilions featured gourmet, adventure tourism, golf, LGBT, online tourism and real estate, and information-packed seminars featured intriguing destinations.
As the extraordinary host of this event, Mexico City promoted its myriad, magical attractions. Mexico City’s Secretary of Tourism Carlos Mackinlay emphasized that “Mexico City is an international capital of cultural arts, history, gastronomy, and especially, entertainment.” The city has seen significant growth in both business and cultural tourism this past year, 50% of its visitors from the United States. Set apart from sun and beach destinations, this sophisticated metropolis offers cultural tourism nonpareil! As these are totally different markets, the colonial cities need to be promoted accordingly.
The vibrant capital offers a vast array of major attractions, ranging from pre-Hispanic archaeological sites, colonial and ultra-modern architecture, an incredible pageantry of history and myth, the fabulous arts in museums and galleries, glittering nightlife, world class gastronomy, amazing shopping, luxurious hotels, four World Heritage sites, and much more to explore! Exhibits featuring different aspects of tourism in the Mexico City stand gave “a new sensation of tourism” and emphasized truly outstanding quality. Mackinlay also remarked that Mexico is undergoing an international process of commercialization, with ever more international hotel chains investing in the country. Some 75% of the hotels are now under foreign ownership.
Mexico City has made great strides in addressing visitors’ security concerns. In fact, Mackay claims the capital is the safest city in the country with thousands of cameras and security systems at work.
A green initiative, the Plan Verde (Green Plan) is having positive results in improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Beautiful vertical gardens are already thriving on some high-rise structures. The Metrobus Bus Rabid Transportation and the metro systems are making a significant impact in reducing pollution and easing traffic congestion. The Ecobici bicycle program provides thousands of bikes and hundreds of stations for people to navigate throughout the city, an environmentally friendly project as well as great exercise for city dwellers! We were able to sightsee aboard the Turibus, a double-decker bus, a really fun and relaxing way to view major sites, with a convenient hop-on, hop-off policy.
Once it was the capital of the formidable Aztecs, Tenochtitlan, built on an island in the waters of Lake Texcoco at an elevation of over 7,000 feet, surrounded by colossal moody volcanoes. Today, it is one of the largest and most populous cities on the planet, its dramatic history and fabulous cultural treasures make it a compelling multi-dimensional destination.
Among the capital’s over 600 hotels, the newest hotels include the Distrito Capital (www.hoteldistritocapital.com), with its renowned flagship restaurant; intimate Las Alcobas Hotel (lasalcobas.com), Down Town, formerly 300-year old Count of Miravalle’s family palace, and boutique Hotel Brick (hotelbrick.com). The gorgeous Presidente Intercontinental is a splendid new addition to the city (www.intercontinental.com) , located in the heart of the Polanco district.
The city’s thousands of restaurants offer diners sumptuous choices of international and regional dishes. In fact, Mexican gastronomy was declared as UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010! Creative fusion of delectable ingredients will satisfy even the most refined palate! A multitude of chic night spots rival those in any world capital! And shopping! Shopping is a most gratifying art in Mexico City! Eclectic shops are filled to the brim with fashionable textiles, stunning silver creations, and exuberant handicrafts from every Mexican state.
The city alone boasts four UNESCO Cultural Heritage sites: the Historic Center, the floating gardens of Xochimilco, UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) and the House of architect Luis Barragan.
Exploration of the city’s multi-faceted environs usually begins in the ancient Zocalo, one of the largest plazas in the world. The Metropolitan Cathedral, partially built from the Aztec’s Templo Mayor’s rubble, is the largest colonial cathedral in the Americas. Construction took nearly 250 years, 1573 – 1813. Here, too, the National Presidential Palace, with Diego Rivera’s brilliant murals gracing the interior walls, a pictorial history of this fabulous land. And travelers thrill to view the antiquities on display in the Templo Mayor museum.
The opulent Palacio of Bellas Arte situated just west of the Zocalo is home to the internationally renowned National Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. Art-lovers enjoy performances of dance, opera, theatre, orchestra, and prestigious exhibitions of painting, sculpture and photography. The Tiffany glass fire curtain is a spectacular work of art in itself!
Museums number over 110! One of the world’s great archaeological museums, the Museum of Anthropology houses a unique collection of pre-Columbian art treasures including the famous Aztec Calendar Stone. It is situated in beautiful Chapultepec Park, one of the oldest natural parks in the Americas. The Castle of Chapultepec, once the residence of Austrian Emperor Maximilian and his Empress Carlota, now houses the National Museum of History.
Billionaire Carlos Slim’s privately owned Soumaya Museum sparkles from afar as its exterior is covered by hexagonal aluminum tiles. Among its prestigious collection of art and artifacts, it holds a vast collection of casts and art by Auguste Rodin.
The guest state at Fita 2012 was Quintana Roo, among the most appealing regions in the country, a true tourism magnet! And small wonder it is. Quintana Roo officials provided a calendar of exciting upcoming events scheduled for the next several months in famed Cancun, Cozumel, Riviera Maya, Isla Mujeres, Holbox, and Chetumal. These include Mundo Maya celebrations, sporting events in Xelha, a wedding event, tenth annual jazz festival, marine turtle festival in Tulum, a festival of life and death in Xcaret, and Cozumel’s scuba festival which will honor Jacques Cousteau. Cozumel’s Mesoamerican Reef is the largest system in the Americas, and famous worldwide for its superlative diving. The guest country at Fita 2012 was Ecuador. This enchanting country will host the much-acclaimedTravelmart 2013 next fall.
And Puebla, just two hours by car from Mexico City will host Tianguis 2013, March 17 – 20, at Puebla’s Centro de Exposiciones/Convenciones. This will be the very first time that Tianguis Turistico, Mexico’s largest annual trade show, will take place in an interior colonial city and not in a “sun and beach” location! This magical city, Mexico’s fourth largest city, is known for its magnificent churches and, of course, gorgeous Talavera tile! Ten of its hostelries are also among the acclaimed “tesoros” (treasures) of Mexico! One of them is the Casona de la China Poblana, an architectural jewel built in the 17th century converted into a unique boutique hotel in the heart of Puebla. Manager Ivan Muniz also touted the region’s distinctive traditional cuisine, such as the mole poblana and the chiles en nogadas. Oh, and the sweets are simply irresistible.
Fita 2012 provided a wonderfully-staged world-class event with incredibly rewarding cultural exchanges and investment opportunities…and the thrill of discovering magnificent Mexico City! It is destined to attract yet more travel professionals from around the globe to next year’s event, Fita 2013. See you there.
Fita 2012, www.fitamxcom