Cancún: A Hispanic tourist haven

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Updated 04 October 2015

Cancún: A Hispanic tourist haven

Cancún is one of the most famous Mexican cities attracting hundreds if not thousands of tourists. It is located on the Yucatán Peninsula bordering the Caribbean Sea and is known for its beautiful long beaches, numerous resorts and energetic culture.
Cancún is composed of two distinct areas: The more traditional downtown area, El Centro, and Zona Hotelera, a long, beachfront strip of high-rise hotels, shops and restaurants. Cancún is also a famed destination for American students during the spring break period of colleges.
When you think about Cancún, you cannot help but think about the beautiful white sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters and dancing palm trees in the beautiful background of the wonders of nature and the marvels of the Mayan civilization. Tourists love to enjoy the water by indulging in activities such as snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, parasailing, water skiing and water sports. It is known for its championship in golf and the beautiful cuisine served in restaurants and cafes lining up the seaside. Cancún is the perfect place to awaken the senses and enlighten the body and soul.
With almost 5,000 archaeological sites in the Mexican Caribbean, Cancún enlightens tourists with the living history of the ancient Mayans. It is an ancient culture and its influence is felt and revered until this day. The Mayan culture is a rich part of the local folklore, which can be experienced throughout the island in arts, cuisine, architecture and more.
One can visit some of the greatest ruins in the world, such as Chitchen Itza, which has recently been named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, and Tulum, both of which are just a short drive away from the city. Within these beautifully preserved surroundings and along the shores of Cancún, a multitude of water sports and other fun activities are waiting for tourists to explore. Add to this natural setting a world-class infrastructure that includes over 25 marinas and water sports centers manned by expert guides and professional operators.
The beautiful city offers an endless variety of amenities, surrounded by lush natural reserves. There are several activities you can do in Cancún and the rest of the Riviera Maya.
The first thing that comes to mind is to spend time by the ocean and beaches. The beaches are absolutely gorgeous and the water is crystal clear and warm. Spending the day on the beaches of Cancún is not just an opportunity to relax. Many of the native people of Cancún make a living by selling different items to the tourists in small kiosks by the beach. There are a variety of items to be purchased from these vendors, such as sarongs, jewelry, seashells and more.
Visit the famous former fishing village of Playa del Carmen. The coastal resort has evolved into a modern tourist destination in the last ten years, with all the amenities of Cancún, but with bigger beaches and a slower pace of life.
The famous Tulum is known for its Mayan ruins overlooking the ocean. Tulum has attracted backpackers and tourists for more than 15 years. Tourism has steadily grown with all budgets now catered for, while still retaining the low-key feeling of a relaxed town by the beach. Originally Tulum comes in two parts, the town part with restaurants, grocery stores, the bus station and several hotels and the long stretch of beach 3 km away. Lining the beach is a long, low-key stretch of hotels and cabanas. To the North are the famous Tulum ruins with an incredible ocean backdrop. Working north to south the hotels go from backpacker to simple beachside cabanas, and then up to honeymoon retreats with full hotel service on offer.
Museo Maya de Cancún is the largest structure built by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). The building itself is a modern piece of architecture and is really quite nice to walk around to discover the original Mayan culture. There is a nice view of the surrounding areas from the upper level. There are a number of Mayan archaeological artifacts. The museum itself is very interesting and takes about an hour to go around and view all the different items and stories of the Maya culture.
As one of the world’s premier tourist destinations, shopping in Cancún is as impressive as one would imagine. You will find a world-class experience with nearly 2,000 shops, boutiques and stores with merchandise ranging from local artisans’ crafts to haute couture and flea markets and souvenir shops selling local Mexican handcrafts. Make sure to pass by the outlet for better bargains on designer clothing, jewelry and leather goods. Cancún has a number of shopping malls, all offering the devoted shopper a real treat. Here is a list of just some of the great places to go if you fancy shopping in Cancún:
One of the must-see places is the Museo Subacuatico de Arte, MUSA, the underwater contemporary museum that was created in 2009 and was formed in the waters surrounding Cancún, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc. The museum aims to establish an interaction between art and environmental science and form a part of a complex reef structure for marine life to colonize and inhabit whilst increasing biomass on a grand scale. All sculptures are secure to the seabed and made from specialized materials used to promote coral life. The total installations occupy an area of over 420 square meters of barren substrate and weigh in at over 200 tons.
Parque de las Palapas is a square in downtown area, which is considered a classic place for locals to meet, which makes it the real heart of the city of Cancún. The space offers a huge stage that is visible where local singing and dancing shows are easily enjoyed. It is an open-air food court with more than 14 stands and is located at the north side of the park. A few wooden carts with palapas covering them are distributed throughout and are used by the artisans to sell their products.
Golf is one of the important activities in Cancún. Tourists can enjoy a great game in a location surrounded by the beautiful Mexican landscape; these courses are home to renowned championships. One must check out the Riviera Cancún Gold and Spa, a Mexican-Contemporary Club House, which allows golfers to relax and enjoy the serenity of the natural reserve that surrounds the course, including the dunes, lakes, mangroves and native palm trees, which are the most important elements that make this golf course a visual stunner. Another famous golf destination is The Moon Spa and Golf Club. It is home to the only Jack Nicklaus Signature Cancún golf course. Its dynamic layout requires golfers to navigate through native vegetation as well as numerous wetlands and strategically placed bunkers.

From local specialties to exotic international fare, Cancún has a way of pleasing even the most sophisticated palette. And if you’re looking for just the right ambience, Cancún offers a diversity of atmospheres from the most romantic and intimate settings to lively social gatherings.

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Tour operators and hotel groups sign up to Saudi tourism growth project

Saudi Arabia plans to create 1.2 million jobs in the tourism sector by 2030. (AN photo/Mo Gannon)
Updated 23 April 2018

Tour operators and hotel groups sign up to Saudi tourism growth project

  • Vision 2030 has a goal to create 1.2 million new jobs in the industry
  • We are participating here to show people that Saudi Arabia has really changed: tour operator

DUBAI: From diving in the Red Sea to sand-skating in the desert, from Jazan’s Fifa Mountains to the archaeological wonders of Al-Ula, it has been impossible not to be wowed by all that Saudi Arabia has to offer on the opening day of this year’s Arabian Travel Market in Dubai. Travel posters of its varied regions blanketed almost every pillar in the concourse, through which thousands of visitors passed on their way into the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center, part of a colorful Saudi tourism campaign. 

And if you somehow missed that on your way into the exhibition halls, then you couldn’t have missed the Saudi pavilion, featuring 60 travel-related agencies under the umbrella of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.

“We are participating here to show people that Saudi Arabia has really changed,” said Abeer Al-Rashed, project co-ordinator for Al Sarh Travel and Tourism, which organizes tours and helps with visa arrangements. “It’s not just a desert in Saudi Arabia. We have a lot of activities.”

The expanded role of tourism under Vision 2030, which has a goal to create 1.2 million new jobs in the industry, is top of mind for those with a foothold already in the region.

“We are thrilled at this accelerated pace of growth in Saudi Arabia and want to make sure that we’re aligned with that,” said Simon Casson, president of hotel operations for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Its Riyadh hotel, Four Seasons’ first in the Gulf when it opened in 2002, is now offering a tour of the Tuwaiq escarpment, otherwise known as the Edge of the World. 

Four Seasons’ plans for a hotel in Makkah, announced in the fall, are in the design phase, with construction expected to begin next year. “The site of the hotel is really the last remaining piece of land that’s ringside, if you like, and has a direct view facing onto the Kaaba, so that will partner very well with our Riyadh hotel,” Casson said.

As for more hotels? “I would say stay-tuned because we’re actively working on other opportunities within Saudi Arabia — not things we can announce at this time but we see a tremendous amount of opportunity as we look forward.”

Omer Kaddouri, Rotana’s president and CEO, also sees tremendous potential. It’s operating four hotels in the Kingdom right now and will have three more by the end of the year. 

“They’re building more reasons to travel there,” Kaddouri said, speaking of the recent changes. “I’d like to say that by the time they’ve reached their 2030 vision, Rotana will have no less than 20 operating hotels in the Kingdom, with more in the pipeline.”

As for the long-awaited Nobu Hotel in Riyadh, Khaled Al-Ashqar, director of sales and marketing, said it’s “very close” to opening. The boutique hotel, with a restaurant by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, will also have a tea lounge and a live cooking station in the Royal Suite. “I’m 100 percent sure it will be the spot of the city,” Al-Ashqar said.