AMAV promoted Mexican Magical Towns at the United States International Tianguis

The event was held from June 28 to 30 in San Antonio, Texas, with the purpose of promoting the tourist, artisanal, gastronomic and cultural wealth of the 177 Magical Towns of Mexico

(Source: Travel2latam)

In this context, Travel2latam spoke with Felipe Cervantes, President of Amav (Mexican Association of Travel Agencies).

What is the history of AMAV and what does it do?

AMAV was founded on July 7, 1945. That is why that date is celebrated in Mexico as Travel Agent's Day, but it is really the birth of the institution. This year we celebrate 79 years. It is the most prestigious, the oldest. The Secretary of Tourism in Mexico coined the phrase that it is the mother of all associations. We are the ones who sell the product of the Magical Towns. We have detected needs that tourists have, especially national tourists, because the product of Magical Towns is mainly for Mexican tourism. However, the challenge is to reach the international market. 

We detect certain needs that national and foreign tourists have, we create a product, a workshop, where we mainly listen to all the suppliers of the tourism chain, such as restaurateurs, artisans, guides, travel agencies and hoteliers. We create the entire tourism chain that allows for a more complete product. Unfortunately, not everything is for everyone, because there are Magical Towns that have a lot to offer, but they may lack hotel infrastructure and that is why people do not stay there, but they are worthy places and must be visited. Mexico already has 177 Magical Towns. 

What is considered a Magical Town? 

The Magic Town has to meet certain requirements; it has to have gastronomy, culture, some archaeological remains and traditions. All the magical towns have traditions, whether carnivals or dances. Fortunately, Mexico is a country very given to festivities, where you can find a celebration every day, there are more than 365 celebrations depending on the communities and the places you go to. 

Magical Towns were born in Mexico in 2001 and the designations began to be granted to generate tourism in certain regions. There were places that were not known and that, by having the designation, the government automatically assigned them a sum of money to be able to make improvements or promotions. That ended in 2018 when the administration that is now about to leave came in. However, it is necessary for that part to return, because the money was used to make underground wiring, to improve. 

We at the association believe that the most democratic way of distributing income is through tourism. Because in tourism, it is the turn of the hotelier, taxi driver, transporter, restaurateur, artisan and the shopkeeper; that is the most democratic way of distributing income as an initiative. 

We believe that tourism and especially the Magical Towns program in Mexico has been a great success. There have been several attempts to eliminate the program due to lack of information, but it is a program that should not only be maintained, but the resources should be returned to the Magical Towns. 

Hidalgo is where the first Magical Town, Huasca, was born. And I want to take advantage of the fact that the Undersecretary of Hidalgo is here with me, to say that we hope that with or without the Secretariat, the resources needed by these regions that tourism has given life to will return.

Taking advantage of your presence, how was the Magical Town of Huasca created? 

It is a pleasure to greet you. I am Salvador Navarrete Zorrilla. I have the honor of being the Undersecretary of Tourism for the State of Hidalgo and, as Felipe says, there is a very interesting anecdote that not many people know about the creation of the Magical Town. It was precisely on a tour of the then Secretary Leticia Navarro to the state of Hidalgo, and in Huasca, where she was flying over, she passed through a town that later became a Magical Town, Real del Monte, and she asked again to return to the tour. “This is magic, these are magical towns,” said the governor at that time, Manuel Ángel Núñez. That is why the program is called Magical Towns and Huasca was the first in Mexico. After about six months, the official appointment was given, and I was fortunate to be the speaker and thank the Secretary of Tourism. 

Later, two more arrived, Real del Monte and Mineral del Chico, and then another six were added. Now we have new Magical Towns in Hidalgo and with all the enthusiasm, always counting on people like Felipe, from the Mexican Association of Travel Agencies, who are a fundamental part of the growth not only of the state of Hidalgo, but of many other destinations and products. 

Felipe, what does the workshop consist of and why was it created? 

The workshop consists of raising awareness among service providers who enter the tourism area, such as restaurants, guides or parks, so that they know how they are going to create their product and what attitude they should have towards the tourist. The main thing is to build a community, to work together, so that the restaurateur can give a good rate to the tour operator so that it can be integrated into its product and when the tourist arrives at the destination, everything is already included, with the experiences that they should have and they are not left with just the accommodation. That is no longer useful today, we have to give them complete and comprehensive experiences. 

What is the difference between the international and national markets?

Mexico is a tourist country and there are many people who come because they want to visit Puebla for all its tradition of churches, for its museums and gastronomy, but Puebla capital is not a magical town, so that is where the challenge lies for those of us who sell. If you are in Puebla, I will take you to Chignahuapan, which is a Magical Town that is 30 minutes away. A foreigner is not going to come to Mexico to visit the Magical Towns. There is still no such knowledge of the destinations. However, it will happen with time and with the work of all those involved, the three levels of government and the private sector.

How long have you been working on this issue? 

We have been working for about five years now, and this is the first time we have presented the workshop. The first group was held yesterday, we will have the second group tomorrow, but it will be a joint and more recurring activity because it made a very good impression and the Magical Towns themselves are requesting it. We have to put together the calendar to be able to do it. We already have a commitment with the area of ​​Campeche where we are going to give the workshop, but it is also a workshop given by those of us who sell the product. We have both versions, the one who makes the product, and the one who sells it, which really guarantees that it is effective. 


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