During ATMEX’s Day of Adventure, event attendees will sample different cultural and adventure travel options in and around San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. // © 2014 ATTA/Santiago Arce
Feature image (above): In between workshops, ATMEX guests are encouraged to visit local landmarks such as the San Cristobal del Casas Cathedral. // © 2014 Thinkstock
The Mexican state of Chiapas is hosting the third Adventure Travel Mexico (ATMEX) marketplace Aug. 27-30 in San Cristobal de las Casas. Sponsored by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), the business-to business event is designed to highlight Mexico’s range of adventure options to international suppliers, buyers and travel agents.
Home to pristine natural sights and diverse offerings for cultural and outdoors enthusiasts, Chiapas is an ideal location for ATMEX, according to Antonio Del Rosal, executive director of Latin America for ATTA and coordinator for the event. Now in its third year, ATMEX 2014 aims to be bigger and better than ever, he said.
“Mexico’s adventure product is as high-quality as that in other leading regions in this industry — including Peru, Ecuador and Chile — and Chiapas is one of the Mexico’s adventure hot spots,” Del Rosal told TravelAge West. “The beauty of the region, combined with amazing activities that are very close by and the live culture that you have access to, such as different families of Mayans who are still thriving in the area, make us thrilled to be there.”
The bulk of the event will take place from Aug. 27-30 in the colonial town of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, where cobblestone streets and historic architecture set the scene. To ensure that attendees get a taste of the area’s attractions, ATMEX kicks off with “A Day of Adventure” during which guests will be organized into small groups to experience various adventure options in the region.
On the days that follow, participating suppliers and buyers will benefit from a range of educational and networking activities. More than 400 suppliers are expected as part of the event’s trade fair, which provides the opportunity for participants to directly connect and do business with adventure tour operators.
Of the array of workshops and presentations taking place on Aug. 28 and 29, the track best suited for travel agents will showcase four Mexico destinations that are ideally positioned for adventure travelers: Chiapas, San Luis Potosi, Baja California del Sur and Oaxaca. Each destination-specific meeting is designed to include a product-training session, with three tour operators sharing details about their products in that area. A number of participating tour operators currently offer travel agents between 10 and 25 percent commission on bookings; suppliers in indigenous communities are being encouraged to create similar commission structures to encourage agent bookings.
Though workshops beyond the destination-focused courses were designed with other audiences in mind — from tour operators in indigenous communities to key decision makers in the government — Del Rosal says that travel agents are welcome to attend any course that interests them. Topics in these tracks include how story telling can improve business, strategies for marketing adventure products and best practices in sustainable tourism.
Fam Trip Options
Prior to Aug. 27, ATMEX is also offering 21 fully hosted, pre-event fam trips for qualifying attendees — almost three times the number of trips offered last year. The fam trip itineraries offer varying degrees of challenge and will be conducted in more than 10 Mexican states. Activities will include bird watching, mountain biking and cultural exchanges. One trip to San Luis Potosi was so popular last year that a similar itinerary for the 2014 event was fully booked within a matter of days.
“Event attendees are going to sample some of the best product available in Mexico,” Del Rosal said. “And, through networking and our educational track designed specifically for buyers and media, travel agents will meet with some of the country’s best operators, giving them a leg up on the competition.”
Expanding Mexico’s Brand
By educating buyers and suppliers on Mexico’s adventure options through ATMEX events, ATTA and the Tourism Board of Mexico hope to expand the country’s tourism brand well beyond the appeal of sun and surf. According to Del Rosal, roughly three destinations in Mexico receive more than 80 percent of its international visitor volume, though they equal less that two percent of the land in the country.
“[This marketplace] is part of the federal government’s strategy to position Mexico as a strong player in the adventure travel market,” said Del Rosal. “We know that the adventure travel offerings bring travelers to the more real regions of Mexico, allowing them to be truly immersed in Mexican culture.”
Interested travel agents can register for the event online at the ATMEX website. The fee for international buyers is approximately $38 per person, plus the cost of international airfare and accommodations. Registered participants are eligible for discounts on Aeromexico flights.
Attendees must submit an application to attend a fully hosted fam trip prior to the event. Successful Mexico buyers and adventure sellers looking to expand their product offerings are the target audience for the fam trips.