05/08/2008Leave the Hammock and look for Adventure in Mexico

Leave the Hammock and look for Adventure in Mexico

By Bryan Kinkade /Travel & Tourism Director, National Geographic Adventure

Market trends indicate that every day there are more Americans who when they think about their next vacation rule out the possibility of the traditional swinging in a hammock on the beach, or making a scheduled visit to a museum. The choice is, undoubtedly, an active holiday experience with a touch of adventure that includes spending a few days or weeks doing kayaking, trekking, diving, cycling or rappel and at the same time discovering the natural and cultural diversities in the region…the interesting part is that most of them prefer to live out these adventures in Mexico.

According to an investigation conducted by the Outdoor Industry Association, a premier trade association for companies in the active outdoor recreation business, a total of 60 million Americans included outdoor activities in their vacations in 2007, which represents an increase of 15 percent compared to 2001.

The most recent study done by Michigan State University and National Geographic Adventure magazine in 2008 found that most U.S. travelers who seek to enjoy adventure tourism, prefer going to Mexico, rather than to other destinations as they would Western Europe, Central and South America, Asia, Australia, Central Europe and Africa, in that order. More and more Americans are looking to incorporate more activities and experiences in their holidays, and Mexico provides the perfect option

That’s because Mexico is one of the best areas for exploration for Americans, not only because of its proximity but also because of its wonderful landscape and its biodiversity of flora and fauna, it’s unique culture, friendly people, and the great care given to its natural beauties.

According to the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico, Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, the country currently has 161 national protected areas, which cover 23 million hectares (56.83 million acres), which equal 12 percent of the country, an amount seven times greater than that which existed in 2000.

Highlighted among these attractions is the Monarch Butterfly Reserve, located in the states of Mexico and Michoacan, which was recently declared by UNESCO as the fourth Mexican Biosphere Reserve. The other three are Sian Ka’an, in the state of Quintana Roo, the Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino, in Baja California Sur, and protected areas of the Gulf of California, also called the Sea of Cortes and located between the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora and Sinaloa. Adventure travelers are eager to get off of the beaten trail and truly experience and understand some of the natural habitats that they’re visiting

For most Americans, the state of Yucatan is the pearl of Mexican tourism as far as adventure activities are concerned, to the extent that not only does it have two of the most valued possessions in the world for diving: Cozumel’s coral reefs and the network of underground rivers in Sac Actún and Ox Bel Ha, one of the longest underwater caves in the world. The Yucatan Peninsula also offers wonderful attractions for those seeking to contemplate thousands of pink flamingos, sea turtles and swamps filled with crocodiles, which can be admired in the Biosphere Reserve of Celestún and the Sanctuary of Ria Lagartos.

On the other hand, if what you like is fishing and grey whale watching, the recommended site is the Port of Ensenada, in the state of Baja California, where you can also practice diving, windsurfing and underwater photography, as some of the most spectacular sea kayaking in the world.

However, we must consider that adventure tourism in Mexico is not only found on its coasts, and adventure travelers are often the first to leave the sun and sand behind and venture inland. In the northern state of Chihuahua is the Copper Canyon, which in its more than 40,000 square kilometers (9.8 million acres) has 20 impressive gorges where you can admire the beauty of the Sierra Madre Occidental, while its plateaus, waterfalls and rivers are ideal for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, bird watching and abseiling.

I assure you that these destinations are just a tiny sample of the large number of places that a traveler interested in adventure can find in Mexico. And better yet, all of them are very close, in a neighboring country which provides facilities and services of high standard and great value.

Adventure travel represents a huge opportunity for Mexico to attract US travelers who are interested in getting away from crowded beaches and resorts, to see and experience all of the great beauty that Mexico has to offer.

Adventure travel is no longer a niche market — Adventure travel is huge and a great opportunity for any one working with tourism to Mexico!

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About the Mexico Tourism Board

The Mexico Tourism Board (MTB) brings together the resources of federal and state governments, municipalities and private companies to promote Mexico’s tourism attractions and destinations internationally. Created in 1999, the MTB is Mexico’s tourism promotion agency, and its participants include members of both the private and public sectors. The MTB has offices throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

FOR PRESS ONLY: For additional ideas, help with a story or general travel and tourism information about Mexico, please contact the MTB’s U.S. Press Room directly at 1-800-929-4555, by e-mail at northamericanpress@visitmexico.com, or visit our press Web site at www.visitmexicopress.com. To access an online warehouse of free, downloadable b-roll, visit www.thenewsmarket.com/visitmexicopress.

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