Given people’s familiarity with “classic” Cancun and its many attributes, it’s not surprising that it’s won yet another feather in its cap with our readers as the Best Selling Destination in Mexico in Recommend Readers’ Choice Awards. This year, however, Cancun has been spreading its wings—beyond the hotel zone, the gorgeous stretch of beaches and sizzling nightlife we’ve all come to know—with a marketing strategy aptly titled, “Cancun and the Treasures of the Caribbean.”
Its aim, says Jesus Almaguer, director of the Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau, is to “present another facet of Cancun and awaken an interest in discovering new aspects of the area: interacting with nature and with locals, gastronomy and more.” The program proves to travelers that there is much more to Cancun than they know, with everything from an annual sailfish migration to ecological experiences across distinctive landscapes. It also highlights Puerto Morelos and the different islands that form part of the region: Isla Holbox, Isla Mujeres, Cozumel and Isla Contoy, each of which enjoys its own personality and natural attractions. Isla Holbox, for instance, is now enjoying renewed fame as a great location from which to enjoy the whale sharks, which have been re-discovered of late and have become a major attraction from June through September. And Puerto Morelos, the oldest port in Quintana Roo, is the ideal departing point from which to explore the underground river system that forms part of the Route of the Cenotes.
The end of this year also brings the much-awaited wrap up of the Cancun Underwater Museum, an artificial reef of sorts with 400 life-size sculptures between Isla Mujeres and Cancun aiding the growth of coral in the region. Once completed, this will be the largest underwater museum in the world and a definite stop for snorkelers and divers—not to mention yet another of “the more than 300 activities of different types that tourists have access to when they visit Cancun,” says Almaguer.
It’s this great variety of options—not to mention more than 28,000 hotel rooms of all price ranges—that has helped Cancun take this win for the fourth straight year. “This is a great honor, as well as an added motivation to continue moving forward,” says Almaguer. “As you know, [Quintana Roo] subsists on tourism…so this is a sign that we’re doing things right. This award demonstrates the consistency of our destination.”
Not only is Cancun selling well, but despite the hurdles it’s encountered this year, so is Mexico.
According to the country’s Secretariat of Tourism, the number of international tourists increased by 18.8 percent from January through September over the previous year, with the U.S. and Canada still leading the way in travelers visiting Mexico. It’s welcome news for millions who make their living in Mexico’s tourism industry and certainly for agents. Those who’ve yet to wet their feet in Cancun’s trademark azure waters can visit the Cancun Travel Institute, which provides tools to expertly sell Cancun and stay updated while specializing in the destination. Once they graduate, explains Almaguer, agents are able to sign up for a FAM trip. “And we’re always innovating [the program],” he adds.