CANCUN, Mexico The Mayan Culture Product Club is not a band or
discount store, but a coalition of four Cancun-area tour operators
specializing in local indigenous Mayan history, natural history,
ecotourism and daily life.
In July 2002, the club was one of 11 niche clubs mandated by the
Cancun Conventions and Visitors Bureau to promote Cancun as a
resort that offers a complete range of products, not just hotels
and beaches, said Humberto Carpio, Cancun All Tours general
The current group, down from eight original members, combines
the specialties of Cancun All Tours (Mayan archeological sites in
the Yucatan Peninsula and mainland Mexico, as well as ecoparks);
Magic Tours (allied with Cancun All Tours, as a group travel
destination management company); Iguana Boat (mixes archeological
sites and ecological tours); and Caribe Mexicano (archeological
sites and Mayan regional tours).
All club members pay travel agent commissions, averaging 15
percent, said Carpio, the club spokesperson. The foursome works
with Cancun visitors bureau-member hotels, and the bureau promotes
the Mayan Culture product at trade shows and in media
Club members offer a wide variety of tour products, said Carpio,
with 30 percent of those tours combining ecology and Mayan
Alltournative Expediciones, which won Mexico’s 2002 ecotourism
award, offers a $92 combination “Coba Archeological Site Pac Chen
Village Tour.” Clients eat lunch prepared by local women, walk
through the jungle with a guide, make a zip-line crossing over a
cenote (sinkhole), rappel down to swim in another cenote and canoe
and swim in a lagoon.
The company pays a 15 percent commission and has worked with Pac
Chen’s 25 families for 30 years, developing a product that permits
village guides to work alternative weeks with sustainable
“We start each trip with an explanation of pre-Hispanic culture
going back to the origins of life,” explained Kenneth Johnson,
president of EcoColors, whose company offers adult and youth tour
products involved with sustainable tourism.
Johnson is the southern area vice president of the Asociacion
Mexicana de Turismo de Aventura y Ecoturismo (AMTAVE), Mexico’s
private association of ecotourism operators and supporters.
EcoColors’ seven-day $1,050 “Mayan Color Tour” covers Yucatan
Peninsula highlights like the Chichen Itza and Uxmal archeological
sites, Merida and the Rio Legartos flamingo preserve. They also
make multiple visits to Mayan communities’ schools, said Johnson,
who pays a 20 percent commission on a wide range of nature-centered
EcoColors operates tours into Si’an Ka’an Biosphere Preserve,
initially providing boats for men of the Chun Yax Che community who
act as guides, and then paying a per-visitor fee.
“Mayans have a hierarchical society, the man is the boss in the
house,” Johnson noted. “So we also go to the ladies, go outside to
their gardens and have them explain medicinal plant uses.”