Tianguis Turistico De Mexico, the 45th edition of the most important tourist showcase in Mexico and Latin America, registered record figures, with the attendance of 1,635 buyers from more than 40 countries, which generated more than 57,200 business appointments.
By: Kai Yeo × Vaughn Lowery
The first post-COVID Tianguis Turistico confab kicked off in the Yucatán capital Mérida from November 16 to 19. Participation exceeded expectations with a record number of registrations, presenting an encouraging outlook for tourism in all of Mexico and sending a clear message: Mexico’s tourism industry is united and working towards the recovery of the sector nationwide.
The 45th edition of Tianguis Turístico is the most anticipated and important event in the industry because it represents the post-pandemic rebirth of tourism in Mexico. Yucatán will be the starting point in this new age of tourism. Yucatán welcomed almost 10,000 under strict biosecurity measures, generating ‘health bubbles’ to facilitate safe involvement.
With the participation of 3,825 exhibitors from 41 countries, 928 participating companies, and 1,390 buyers, this year’s Tianguis presented the opportunity to be part of the largest tourism business showcase in Latin America. “This Tianguis will be a sign that Mexico is ready for the recovery of its sector and that our country is also ready to carry out large events with the strictest and most innovative standards,” said Michelle Fridman Hirsch, Secretary of Tourism Development of Yucatán (Sefotur). “This will be a new edition of the Tianguis, with new needs, new behaviors, new circumstances — a renaissance of tourism.”
The Tianguis Turístico de México first emerged 45 years ago as a platform to promote Mexico as a unique and rich destination thanks to its remarkable culture, history, and natural beauty. It eventually became the most relevant event of its kind, in which industry experts meet in a professional, dynamic, and highly productive business forum over three days.
Before the conference, Fridman led a tour of the state’s 150 new tourism infrastructures with international investors, including Xibalbá Park, which will be a circuit of eight cenotes. Fridman reiterated her commitment to promoting the development of new tourism products from the perspective of sustainability. 360 MAGAZINE was invited to attend and explore the exhibits of participating hotels, airlines, fairgrounds, exhibition centers, and more. Before the conventions, we visited Yucatán’s best sites in El Cuyo, Valladolid, and Merida.
Upon arrival, the team checked into Hotel Hampton Inn to relax before the upcoming week of activities. The hotel is not too far from the airport, which makes it an ideal layover spot. As we arrived late that evening, we had a quick bite for dinner and drinks. The service matched the animated style of the restaurant, and the food was delicious. Their menu is simple: Caesar salad, street-style tacos, and an assortment of pizzas – options perfect when traveling with children. Our bedroom featured double beds, a Samsung TV, and a steam shower with doors. Very comfortable and affordable accommodation for business travelers. Additional features include a yard to smoke in and a fitness center to stretch out after a long flight. With a second wind, take a walk down the street to the shopping center, or get lucky at the 24-hour casino.
On the first full day, we transferred from the hotel to our first stop: the El Cuyo beach in the Puerto Maya region for an ATV tour in the San Manuel reserve. Following the day’s activities, we finished with a seafood experience at the Valerios. At night, we received a tour of the Ria Lagartos reserve, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve located at the eastern end of the coastal strip. We also viewed the pink tubular salt mines “Las Coloradas,” which also translates to ‘blush red’ in Spanish. The vibrant pink body of water gets its unique tint from red-colored algae, plankton, and brine shrimp that use the salty water as their habitat. Dinner at Casa Palma restaurant and enjoying a bonfire in the sand was the perfect evening before retiring to our hotel for the evening – LunArena.
LunArena Hotel is a 3-year-old establishment that works diligently to offer a whimsical environment. Located between the ocean, lagoon, and jungle, LunArena is the perfect place to disconnect from the world and reconnect with nature We had the opportunity to meet the CEO, who took great care of us, on top of a professional staff who made our stay extremely pleasant. With delicate decor coupled with pop design baubles, this hotel offers twelve rooms with couples in mind. Phenomenal experiences are accessible due to the hotel’s convenient location. The picturesque Pink Beach, home to flamingoes, is just 90 minutes by mountain bike, ATVs, or tactical FWD vehicle. The jungle and a plethora of outdoor adventures such as paddle boarding, biking, and hiking are at your fingertips. The compact lodge offers tons of gourmet Italian and Mexican delicacies. They provide breakfast, lunch, dinner on their private outdoor terrace featuring a swimming pool. Read our full review on LunArena here.
We started day two with breakfast at the hotel and hung out on the beaches of El Cuyo before transferring to Zazil Tunich in the magical town of Valladolid. This otherworldly experience connected us to nature in the Xeneba Maya village, home to 500 thousand years of stone formations dripping into crystal clear water. Zazil Tunich has been appointed one of the most spectacular cenotes in the region, with thousands of stalagmites and stalactites, and it was a pleasure to enjoy a private meal there. After, we visited the historic center of Valladolid for a tour and strolled the Calzada de los Frailes – a beautiful and charming cobbled street in Valladolid that runs diagonally from the center of the city to the Sisal neighborhood and the Convento de San Bernardino di Siena. It is lined with colorful buildings full of housing, boutique shops, restaurants, bars, and hotels. Filled with shopping, nightlife, food, tradition, and opportunities, Valladolid felt like a bustling baby New York in the southern region of Mexico. We got dinner at Los Frappes, situated in the heart of the town in front of the convent. A multi-level venue with live music and good food, Los Frappes is great for celebrations and craft cocktails, with an extremely hospitable team.
For our final stretch of the trip, 360’s team checked into a character hotel in a unique urban setting. Zenti’k Project is an eccentric immersive property featuring twelve Mayan-style staterooms. The upstairs accommodations have mosquito beds with lounge corners as well as small porches to enjoy the stunning constellations. Its main attraction though? An underground cave six meters below the hotel, containing an adapted heated saltwater pool. As if these healing properties were not enough, the day spa services are superb. At the hotel’s restaurant, décor lined with works of famous artists transforms the space into a sanctuary for the creative. During that captivation, take full advantage of their gourmet menu that includes vegan options. Bartenders are knowledgeable mixologists who excel in their optimal pairing recommendations. The concierge is warm and inviting – they can recommend an abundance of recreational activities. With the city center within a mile, shopping, restaurants, and nightlife are at guests’ fingertips.
The following day, we went on a bicycle tour with “Go Maya” through the center of Valladolid. We visited La Casona de Valladolid for a buffet-style lunch and chose from a fine selection of dishes with the best of traditional Yucatecan food including black turkey stew, Valladolid style pork loins, smoked pork sausage with eggs, and more.
When traveling through Yucatán, it is a must to see at least one cenote. We were lucky to visit Cenote Selva Maya after lunch and experience its water activities, perfect to cool down on a busy and hot day with a restaurant conveniently located. Located in a beautiful hacienda, Selva Maya, another cenote, is another unique treasure of Yucatán. It was a perfect final activity before transferring back to Mérida and checking in to the Hampton Inn Hotel for dinner.
On our very last day, we headed to the Xibalbá reserve experience after breakfast. Xibalbá in Mayan culture is the gate or path to the underworld; in our case it is the gate to the unknown underground world of Yucatán, just waiting to be discovered. Xibalba is a hidden natural reserve surrounded by the mystery and charm of nature. The activities encouraged us to explore the history and culture of Yucatán before returning to Merida for the “Welcome to Yucatán” reception.
In our free time, we visited Galería Mérida – The Mall of Mérida. There is an ice-skating rink in the middle with a total of 77 stores including H&M, Bershka, Pull&Bear , and Zara to shop at. A great mall to hang out, people watch and shop.
We managed to squeeze in a tattoo appointment at TATUAJES OVEJA NEGRA MÉRIDA – they say Rafiki is one of Merida’s greatest tattoo artists, so we could not miss this opportunity. With more than 20 years of experience, he paid special attention to detail, and it stood out in his technique. If you are looking for a nice work of art at an affordable price, this is the spot. Additionally, we also got a quick refresh at Wall’s Barbershop. As people in the fashion industry, we usually would never get our hair cut at a random salon without doing research. However, Wall’s Barbershop felt different. The interior looked like an elegant cigar salon, and it seemed the attention paid to the client was equal, if not greater. Asked if we wanted a bottom or top fade, the cut was fresh, thorough, professional, and hospitable.
Rescheduled four times because of the pandemic, the 45th Tianguis Turistico was an important part of positioning the state of Yucatán on the world tourism stage. Sefotur worked with local business owners to ensure all its tourism offerings were center stage for the event. In a culminating moment, the state’s cultural, gastronomic, and archaeological wealth were presented in an open-air food market. Here, sixteen restaurants offered endemic dishes such as cochinita pibil. Another feature was a Mayan Village where inhabitants from different regions showed their crafts and products. The adventure tourism expo rounded out the experience, where attendees learned about various activities Yucatán offers such as visits to cenotes, Mayan villages, caves, jungles, and archaeological sites. University tourism students and other participants were able to take part in an educational agenda with seminars and masterclasses on the state’s tourism infrastructure and planning.
The state of Yucatán’s pavilion was one of the fundamental elements in the promotion of tourism during the Tianguis Turistico. Divided into 6 regions designated as Ruta Puuc and Mayan Villages, Cenotes and Haciendas, Mundo Maya, Puerto Maya, Mérida Cultural and Gastronomic Capital of the South and Yucatán Riviera. Local tourism providers held over 6,000 meetings with buyers in effects that will be seen in both the short and long-term for this destination.
It should be noted that Yucatán was chosen to host this edition of the Tianguis thanks to its excellent hotel infrastructure and tourist services, its excellent air, maritime and land connectivity, and of course, the wide range of attractions for both leisure and business travelers. Mérida is one of just seven cities in Mexico with the necessary capacity to carry out large-scale events such as the Tianguis Turístico 2021. Yucatán’s beaches, magical towns, andworld-renownedd archaeological sites paired with an incomparable local and contemporary gastronomic scene make for an unforgettable experience.
Additionally, you can also find many groups of expats living in Merida and the population is ever growing.