Tianguis Turístico—My Expo and Behind the Scenes

DSC_0036I am enormously excited and honored to have a photo exhibition at the entrance to the Mazatlán International Center during the Mexican National Tourism Fair. Honestly, beyond words lucky and blessed. With over 30,000 people attending from over 50 countries, and all of them walking through my photos to get to their meetings, workshops and conferences, it is a privilege I never would have dreamed of!

The exhibition is entitled, “Mazatlán: City of Contrasts,” and is comprised of 19 photos plus my biography and the exhibit overview. CULTURA Mazatlán commissioned 10 new outdoor mounts for the exhibition, structures which will now be available for other outdoor art exhibitions. They look great! I hope you’ll agree.

We set up yesterday with Maritza and Don Gus from CULTURA. They worked past midnight last night, and today it all looks beautiful. THANK YOU all so very, very much, from the bottom of my heart I appreciate you! Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

While we were up at the convention center today, we took a tour around. Many of you  have asked if “normal people” can get in. As I explained in a previous post, the event is for tourism and hospitality professionals and is primarily a business event. You can buy a US$150 ticket to attend, though that doesn’t get you entry to the private dinners and shows; those are by invitation only. For the first time in the 21 year history of the Tourism Fair, there are several events open to the public—that is because our local and state officials made that happen. See my previous article for details. Note also that I’ve seen people advertising on Facebook that Credence Clearwater Revisited is at 2:00 pm. The official press release we received says it’s at 8:00 pm, though I’d recommend you get there by 6:00 pm as it’ll be crowded.

Anyway, the convention center is completely transformed from the usual. They have built a huge new building on the back yard, they have built loads of new walls and rooms inside, and many of the huge promotional stands are still being built. There is a food court outside at the entrance, another one upstairs, and they are LOCAL PROVIDERS! Woot woot! Fish Market, Muchacho Alegre, Pedro y Lola, Wing’s Army, Costa Marinera and Carnitas El Bigotes.

Here are some photos of the inside of the fair at the convention center, which they are still setting up. The temporary building they built in the back has a grand entrance opening up to the Sinaloa state stand. That portion contains stands for each state of the Republic.

That new temporary outdoor building has a second section with stands for private enterprise: hotel chains, tour operators, travel agencies, bus lines, airlines, car rentals, beer companies, etc. The lower level indoor room contained more of those private stands, but off to the side of the main thoroughfare.

The upper level ballrooms are equipped for workshops, speeches and meetings, as is the upper mezzanine.

One thing I absolutely LOVED is that upstairs they have a display of footballs—NFL style footballs—decorated by indigenous people from all over Mexico. Excellent exhibition of art, play, creativity and indigenous pride!

I know everyone living downtown is having a hard time as they are taking cars off the streets today and moving them to parking garages/areas, and movement will be restricted during the inauguration tomorrow (Sunday) evening in the theater and Olas Altas. Let’s all remember it’s for a good cause, a chance to show our pride in and love for our fair city and state, and to showcase it on the world stage!

 

So Proud of Sinaloa!

TTingSinaloa is shaking things up and leading the way for Mexico, people!

Mexico’s National Tourism Fair—the Tianguis Turístico—is a business event. It was designed as such and since its inception has always been a closed event for the elite of the world’s tourism and hospitality industries. The fair’s days are filled with business meetings, conferences, networking and deal making. It is normally all about work, and not much play. Below is from the Tianguis website; excuse the strange English—national tourism could obviously benefit from some fluent English speakers!

Tianguis Turistico is the most important event of the tourism sector in Mexico, where entrepreneurs, hoteliers, travel agents, in-bound operators, tour operators, meeting planners and specialized media of the tourist industry from more than 80 countries in the world, gather to concrete business appointments with all the destinations of the country, being the most representative event for the commercialization of the Mexican tourist offer.

Leave it to my beloved Sinaloa to change all that! April 15-18, 2018, when Mazatlán hosts the event, the Tianguis will still include loads of private business meetings, but it will also include two of the things that Sinaloa is most famous for — COMMUNITY and FUN! Our Sinaloa, making things better than ever!

We’ve all moaned about the construction city-wide that has preceded the Tourism Fair—its been year of noise, dust and inconvenience—and we’re all excited about the fact that our hometown will be showcased as the tourist gem that it is. Now that the event is close, however, I’ve heard quite a few people complain that the Tianguis events are private and not open to the public, after all the suffering we’ve been through.

While business access to the event starts at $200USD if you pay before April , this year there will be some very cool events that are indeed open to the public. Our Governor, Secretary of Tourism and Director of Cultura say they wanted to be more inclusive of the local community.

So, what events can we all get into without a ticket or invitation? They are in bold type in the chronological list of events, below.

Saturday April 14th at 8 pm near the Fisherman’s Monument everyone is invited to a free concert by “Credence Clearwater Revisited.” Don’t expect John Fogerty, but CCR members Doug Clifford on drums and Stu Cook on bass will be there, along with another expected 30,000 people.

Opening night on Sunday April 15th at 6 pm—invitation only—includes a spectacle that will rock the Angela Peralta Theater, including a brief 10-15 minute Cirque du Soleil show and remarks from the President of the Republic, Enrique Peña Nieto.

After the event’s opening 1200 invitation-only “Captains of Industry” will dine al fresco along Paseo de Olas Altas beginning at 8 pm. They will be served dinner from seven different kitchens located between the Escudo and the Deer Monument. Security will be tight, as Mexico’s President EPN will be there. This is the night when there will be a VERY abbreviated 15-float Carnaval parade as well as a VERY short Combate Naval. The latter, I have been told, will last only 10-15 minutes, also. Sunday evening will include entertainment that will begin with opera from around the world, continue with Mexican music, and end with banda and other Sinaloa music. Performances will include:

  • Alexandr Borodín’s “Polovtsian Dances” from the opera, Prince Igor; “Woman is Fickle” from Giuseppe Verde’s opera, Rigoletto; “Love is a Rebellious Bird” or “Habanera” and also “Toreador” from Georges Bizet’s opera, Carmen; “Oh My Dear Daddy” from the opera, Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini.
  • Songs of Pedro Infante, Lola Beltrán, Juan Gabriel and José Alfredo Jiménez as well as mariachi music.

I am so very pleased to know that our local artistic and performance talent will be front and center, including the orchestra, the camerata, Delfos, the adult and youth choruses, and a banda created just for this event, called Puro Sinaloa! 2018 is also the first Tianguis in history that will showcase the culture and talent of the hosting city and state.

The Tianguis will be based at the Mazatlán Convention Center. I was out there two days ago, and they have built a two-story building in the back yard to house the multitude of meeting rooms that will be required for this huge event. I’m also very pleased to report that photos from my “Yo Soy Fuereña, Nací de Aquí Muy Lejos” exhibit, in Galería Peralta now through 14 April, will be reprinted and mounted at the entrance to the Convention Center, to welcome Tianguis visitors to Mazatlán.

Monday through Wednesday are mostly business meetings, but at 1 pm Monday afternoon Steve Wozniak will speak. Monday evening at 7 pm in Centro Histórico the states of Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas, Guanajuato and Aguascalientes will put on an artisan fair and festival that will be open to the public. Simultaneously there will be an invitation-only reception in the Plazuela Machado. But, the fact that it’s invitation-only doesn’t mean the public can’t enjoy the events from and on the outside of the perimeter!

Tuesday at 8 pm my favorite hometown band, La Falsa Orquesta Cubana, will play dance music in the Plazuela Machado, and public opportunities to enjoy the event will finish up on Wednesday evening from 8 – 10 pm with the music of Suncaí Gitano,  a presentation of the Circo Machado, and the voice of Heidi Herrera.

I know I’m still surrounded by construction on all four sides, with noise and dust 24/7; a short respite will be more than welcome. Enjoy!

Parque Central / Central Park Update

4d55d780179b1adbc4563c98da8f4dc1I announced the new Central Park to you back in 2014, to be built on the site of the current Bosque de la Ciudad in front of the baseball stadium. Plans, naturally, have changed significantly since then, as you can see on its new website. The developers are excellent marketers, the designs are very modern and world-class, and I know this will be a huge boon to tourism and hopefully to schoolchildren and the general community in Mazatlán.

Construction of the Avenida de la Bahía and the park thus far have been a total destruction of the environment, preceded by the burning of the laguna which murdered thousands of turtles, nesting birds, iguanas and badgers, then by filling in nearly two-thirds of it. The one saving grace is that the new avenue will provide much-needed parking for those nearly 1000 spaces lost when they remodeled the malecón, and it will provide access during the sporting events (marathon, triathlon, etc.) that so often close the Avenida del Mar.

We have reported on concrete mixers and painters cleaning out their trucks into the estuary with zero regard for the environment. Our video on that was shared tens of thousands of times, to no avail. The road is nearly done now, and the estuary is nearly completely filled in with reclaimed land. The builders have a lovely video on their site where they show a biologist relocating some of the animals from the current Bosque de la Ciudad to make room for construction.

It looks like the plan is to completely scrape out the existing lagoon and build small islands that will be accessible by paddle boat to visitors. Our current park is a habitat to so many large migrant birds; I do pray they will continue to visit the new man-made, modern lagoon.

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The new park does look lovely if you don’t think about the flooding that it is most likely to cause. I hope it will be accompanied by civic education around litter and the environment as they’ve said, because otherwise those small islands in the pond are going to become trash heaps. Good news is that designs include water circulation to keep things fresh, and hopefully lots of trash cans and cleaning staff.

I love that the new 5 million liter aquarium, which looks like it will completely replace the old one, will have an exhibit dedicated to Jacques Cousteau, champion of the Sea of Cortés, though no doubt he is turning in his grave to know the environmental destruction leading up to its construction. Greg is excited for the Food Truck Park and the promise it brings.

 

I am excited about the museum as well, designed to look like an oyster, since we are the “Pearl of the Pacific.” It is supposed to contain an IMAX theater and the second floor will have a killer view of the ocean, supposedly, though I think we have so many towers on the malecón that that could be challenging. Best part? The map seems to show it occupying the corner of Insurgentes and Avenida del Mar, where Geronimo’s has stood vacant for how many years. Will be great to get rid of that eyesore!

Plans still include two walkways from the park out to the malecón, which would be hugely welcome to all those who enjoy sports and the outdoors. I’m confident the park will be a huge boon to the city, as long as we can keep it clean and maintained. I remain saddened that “development” has to mean “destruction of nature.”

Focus on Responsible Tourism

Three cruise lines, new air connections, 12,000 rooms in 180 hotels… We greet hundreds of thousands of national and international visitors each year in Mazatlán. Any chance I’ve gotten over the past eight years I’ve tried to encourage travelers to get beyond the stereotypical but wonderful beer and beaches to experience a bit of the “real Mexico,” be it a visit to a small town, witnessing the shrimp or mango harvest, or admiring the Mayo-Yoreme traditions.

Recently, however, I’ve been working with a colleague in Milan, Maura di Mauro, on a project, and she cautioned me about how the culture of Mursi villagers in Ethiopia was changing due to tourism. Thanks to an influx of camera-toting tourists willing to pay for photos, the villagers increasingly exaggerate their traditional practices and even falsely embellish them, to make them more attractive to visitors. Lord knows I’ve witnessed this sort of thing happening in and around Mazatlán. She also told me about Chinese tourists descending en masse on a small village in The Netherlands. Many of the Dutch residents welcome the added economic boost such international tourism provides, but they have also experienced downsides to such tourism and, again, changes to their culture. We in Mazatlán sure experience the ups and the downs of tourism, and know how important it is to our economy.

Maura said there were documentaries about both of these topics, made by the same Dutch cinematographer. She got me excited and I can not WAIT to view the two films!

The first documentary Maura told me about is called Framing the Other” by Ilja Kok and Willem Timmers  (25 min, English and Mursi with English subtitles).

The Mursi tribe lives in the basin of the Omo River in the south of the east African state of Ethiopia. The women are known for placing large plates in their lower lips and wearing enormous, richly decorated earrings. Every year hundreds of Western tourists come to see the unusually adorned natives; posing for camera-toting visitors has become the main source of income for the Mursi. To make more money, they embellish their “costumes” and finery in such a manner that less of their original authentic culture remains. The film contrasts the views of Mursi women and those of Dutch tourists preparing for a meeting. This humorous and at the same time chilling film shows the destructive impact tourism has on traditional communities. A preview is below:

 

The second film is called Ni Hao Holland: The Chinese are coming” by Willem Timmers (25 min, Mandarin and Dutch with English subtitles).

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It is a documentary about Chinese tourists and their quest for the authentic Dutch experience. Cherry, the main character, has long dreamt of swapping her home city Beijing for the Dutch village Giethoorn. She has heard and read a lot about this mythical place. The day arrives that she and her friend hop on the plane in search of adventure. In the meantime, entrepreneurs from Giethoorn work hard behind the scenes to cater to this “Holland experience.” They want to make the most of the fast-growing flow of Chinese tourists to their village. How is this authenticity created by some and experienced by others? A preview follows:

 

While I’ve yet to watch either of these movies, it sure sounds like there’s a lot to think about for tourism in Mazatlán and Sinaloa. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!