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Monday,  February 26, 2024 1:50 AM 

Agents introduced to wonders of Yucatán


Agents introduced to wonders of Yucatán
Pictured, L-R: Kim Barbisan, business development manager, WestJet; Karina Fuentes, representative, Chablé Resort & Spa; Rosa Elena Vermont Ricalde, international promotion manager, Yucatán Travel; Cesar Mendoza, regional director, Mexico Tourism Board.

Travel agents got a taste of Yucatán at an informational event held by Mexico Tourism Board, in conjunction with WestJet and Yucatán Travel, at Toronto’s Old Mill yesterday evening.

Cesar Mendoza, regional director, Mexico Tourism Board and Kim Barbisan, WestJet business development manager were joined by Rosa Elena Vermont Ricalde of Yucatán Travel and Karina Fuentes of Yucatán’s Chablé Resort & Spa to highlight the vast array of experiences on offer in the Mexican state.

The session, Mendoza told PAX, also aimed to capitalize on the ever-increasing numbers of Canadian travellers visiting Mexico in general. “Canada is our second most important destination or producer of tourism to Mexico after the U.S.,” he commented. “What we plan to do is change that very steady growth from 1-2 per cent year over year to 9 per cent in 2017, or the 2017-18 winter season.”

Year-on-year increases

The growth of Canadian travel to Mexico has been steady, with air arrivals between January and December 2016 totalling 1.8 million – a 2 per cent increase over 2015 and 6.3 per cent over 2014. Of the 2.3 million airplane seats to Mexico in 2017, almost 770,000 have come from Toronto alone.

Travel agents, Mendoza added, remain essential to the tourism board’s plans for continuing the steady growth of travel between Canada and Mexico. “We are planning to have many seminars – the education of our agents is very important,” he said.

“Even though they know their destinations, sometimes there are new things going on, new hotels being built, new theme parks – even connectivity. What we want to do is [conduct] seminars partnering up with an airline or tour operator so they [agents] know the whole thing – how to take their customers, what plane, what city, gateway, the destination, and the things they can do when they arrive.”

‘Rich and unique’

Ricalde told the audience that Yucatán presented a ‘rich and unique’ range of experiences, from its pueblos mágicos (Izamal and Valladolid) to the capital of Mérida, described as the ‘jewel in Yucatán’s crown.’ Tours on offer include a trip to each of the main island sites, while historically significant archaeological locations such as Uxmal can also be visited by day and night.

Mérida, comprised of vibrant, colourful houses, is increasing its hotel offering by almost 2,000 rooms, allowing increased capacity for tourists to experience the thousands of cultural events that are taking place this year. It’s been designated as Capital America de la Cultura for 2017, its second time holding the title, and is also often viewed as one of Mexico’s safest cities – ‘you can feel free to walk it by day and night,’ commented Ricalde.

The state’s naturally expressive people and Mayan heritage, Ricalde said, contribute to a distinctive culture that’s reflected in the cuisine on offer in local markets – also a product of its historic trade links with Cuba, Europe and New Orleans.

Whether travellers wish to explore Izamal, experience Valladolid’s iconic cenotes or ‘mix it up in Mérida,’ Ricalde told the agents present that all of Yucatán’s offerings were highly accessible, with the state just three hours away by highway from Cancún and Riviera Maya, and WestJet offering direct flights from Toronto.

Yucatan's Chablé Resort.

Luxury offering

Chablé Resort, situated in the heart of Yucatán, was described by its representative Karina Fuentes as ‘one of the most luxurious hotels in Mexico.’ Located on 740 acres of land, the property features 38 casitas and two expansive villas, in addition to a three-bedroom presidential villa – spanning 8,000 sq. ft. – and a royal villa. The property has already won a flurry of awards, despite only opening last year, and one of its most unique features is its luxury spa – located alongside a natural cenote.

Toronto-Mérida service

WestJet representative Kim Barbisan said that the airline was extremely pleased by the return of its Toronto-Mérida service, which will operate on Tuesdays between Dec. 5 and April 24.

“We’re very excited that Mérida is back non-stop from Toronto,” she told the audience. “We aced out on the flight times.” Noting that WestJet Vacations’ brochure was now available for order, she encouraged agents to get in touch with their business development manager for any further queries to make the most out of the potential presented by Yucatán.

Further information about Yucatán is available at www.gotoyucatan.com.

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