Mexican Caribbean Trade Event Shines Spotlight on Region's Appeal to Canadian Travellers

Lizzie Cole of Mexican Caribbean
Lizzie Cole of Mexican Caribbean

Margaritas were the cocktail of the hour as a team representing the Mexican Caribbean hosted about one hundred Toronto-area travel advisors at Toronto’s Royal Sonesta Hotel.  15 exhibitors from the tourist board, airlines and hotels provided updates about the region's product.

The group were promoting the appeal of the Mexican State of Quintana Roo (pronounced, as we learned “Kintana Roh”), which stretches from the northeast tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, right down to the Belize Border. And, as agents know, includes a lot of destinations well-loved by Canadians: Cancun, the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and more. “More” could include the sleepier island Isla Mujeres, the “new” destination of Costa Mujeres and the state capital, Chetumal, in the southernmost part of the state.

With a slogan of "The Best of Two Worlds," clearly the group is capitalizing on the combination of the two attractions of its geography: the sunny charm and easy access of the Caribbean with the distinctive Mexican/Mayan culture.

The large group of agents was attentive and appreciative

“We have three airports; four cruise ship terminals; over 120,000 hotel rooms; a total of 14 golf courses and 19 archaeological sites,” Lizzie Cole, Executive Director of Promotion for the Mexican Caribbean told the rapt crowd. “And of course the ever present Mayan culture.” The state is, of course, home to such Mayan sites as Tulum and Coba.

And if you are looking for a region with expertise in destination weddings, you may just have found it: over 130,000 weddings are performed there annually. “People know the destination, they know the level of service we offer and it’s at cost a lot cheaper than the Caribbean islands,” Cole told Open Jaw.

The fastest growing destination in the state is the 42 km long Balacar Lagoon, “the lagoon of seven colours”, near Chetumal, known for its boutique, EP hotels and off-the-beaten-path vibe. There are flights from Mexico City and Cancun to Chetumal.

Nohemi Lomas of the Westin Cozumel
Nohemi Lomas of the Westin Cozumel

For some insider suggestions on Cozumel, Open Jaw spoke with Noemi Lomas of the Westin Cozumel. “Of course the divers love Cozumel – but we have much more! The Mayan culture, great beach clubs and tours to ‘the other side’ (the quiet eastern side of the island).”

She also shared some insider tips on her island: “The best bar is Mayan 24 Hours on the eastern side – tourists don’t know about it – and the best shopping for resort wear is Los Cinco Soles in the town of San Miguel.”

Also in the “good to know” department:

  • The free Guest Assist App from the state’s Secretary of Tourism contains info on health and security and is super helpful
  • On arrival, clients must pay a USD $19 Visitax (can be paid by phone) which is an environmental protection act tax in place since last year
  • The long and cumbersome Immigration form is no longer required
In full Open Jaw colours! The ladies from Swoop had lots of info for the agents
'Twinning' with Open Jaw pink! Swoop making a bold statement at the event.

Martha Chapman

Columnist

An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha can often be seen On The Town covering industry events. Known to all in the biz, Martha has worked her entire career in travel, beginning as a teenaged hotel receptionist in Bermuda.

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