History comes alive in the “Land of the Mayab,” where an ancient culture underpins a vibrant, modern destination that serves up everything a meeting and events planner needs for success.
The state of Yucatan extends along the upper portion of the large peninsula of the same name, boasting a generous coastline bathed by the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In a nutshell, this state sits on a limestone shelf honeycombed with underground rivers, caverns, and sinkholes and topped with expanses of green jungle, home to magnificent nature preserves like Celestún and Río Lagartos, site of the largest colony of flamingos in the Americas.
Its hundreds of miles of coastline offer towns such as Progreso and Telchac, with white-sand beaches and emerald seas. Incomparable archaeological sites from the ancient Maya civilization take you back in time, as do colonial cities where you can walk through history, enjoy a fine meal, then relax in your air-conditioned room. And to top off its magnificent offer, the state has invested heavily in robust infrastructure and professional training that have made it an extremely competitive option on the list of Mexico’s premier destinations for the international meetings industry.
The destination has already hosted events of worldwide significance, most recently the World Nobel Peace Laureates Summit in 2019 and is looking forward to hosting the largest-ever Mexico Tianguis Turístico, the country’s largest international travel trade show, postponed until March 2021 due to the pandemic.
Building a Brand
Yucatan’s allure for meeting planners has increased steadily over the years, building on an already robust leisure portfolio. In fact, pre-pandemic, in 2019 the state had registered a 46% increase in the number of tourists coming into the state that were tied to the MICE industry.
“Yucatan grew very quickly in the MICE industry over the last years,” said Michele Fridman, the state’s Minister of Tourism. “We expanded our second convention center, our exhibition center, plus this convention center (Centro International de Congresos de Yucatán) that is right next to downtown Merida. Of course, we also have the offer in the haciendas, in the hotels, and in other venues that makes us a very competitive city for the segment.”
“The [combination of the] infrastructure, the connectivity, the services [makes] our industry very competitive in terms of any service you might require for an event,” she stated. “And there’s a second competitive issue: we’re the safest state in Mexico, one of the safest cities in America. Actually, Merida is the second safest city in the whole continent, right after Quebec City.”
The offer for post-event group activities and incentives is just as strong. “It’s not only the fact that you have all the facilities for your event,” continued Fridman. “We also have an amazing gastronomy, amazing archaeological sites, worldwide known archaeological sites such as Chichén Itza or Uxmal. We have the cenotes, we have the beaches, we have the flamingos on the beaches, and we have the colonial cities such as Izamal, Valladolid, Merida, which is a city that won the award as the best city in the world by Condé Nast last year. Things were going great for Yucatan and for Merida before covid-19. Of course, we’re confident that we will go back to that path.”
In Yucatan, sustainability is more than a talking point. “In the area of the MICE industry we’ve been encouraging all the stakeholders in the industry to be part of this sustainability and sustainable development path,” said Fridman. “We have several certifications, for example, this building (Centro International de Congresos de Yucatán) has the LEED certification.”
Sustainability is also about inclusivity. To that end, the Ministry has worked at decentralizing events outside of Merida, sending them to Izamal, Valladolid, and the beaches. They’ve also been getting involved with local producers, tapping local communities to create event souvenirs, for example, instead of importing from the outside.
Yucatan Will be Ready When You Are
“We’re preparing ourselves to be able to offer all the technology and the standards for hybrid events and, of course, we will not have any issue by doing that in our high-tech, modern convention center,” stated Fridman. “I’m confident we will be ready, but we need to transmit that confidence to the meeting planners. Firstly, we’ve been encouraging our industry to offer bio-security (on par with the ultra-high standards being offered in Quintana Roo). Secondly, a digitalization technological stuff for the event for the industry. Thirdly and most importantly, the flexibility of being able to make changes. If an event comes to Yucatan, planners should be confident to make any changes if the conditions force them to do it.”
“It’s part of being resilient doing this, we need to be resilient. Until the COVID-19 pandemic ends, we need to learn how to deal with it while reopening tourism.”
The city of Mérida is served by an international airport located less than eight miles from downtown, and, as of publication, it had already regained over 50% of its connectivity, with more already in the works.
For more information on Meetings and Events in the state of Yucatan, visit Yucatan Meetings.