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It looks like Mexico has a new star in the making, as an unknown city that had never been widely promoted as a destination takes center stage as part of the country’s tourism offering. It has no coastline and therefore no pristine beaches like those found in the Caribbean, nor the Mayan monuments of the Yucatan Peninsula, but it is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations south of the border.
Since the borders of the world have reopened to tourism and normal tourism has resumed, Mexico has claimed the coveted title of king of tourism, and it is not difficult to understand why. Being a country rich in nature and home to many iconic sites, it is a natural leader in holiday bookings, especially when it comes to sunny getaways.
Surprisingly though, most visitors to Mexico still fail to grasp just how diverse and multicultural it really is – or did until this year:
The secret is out: Mexico is so much more than a sunny break at the beach
To reduce Mexico to its resort areas and the occasional mystical ancient pyramid is a big mistake. Yes, these attractions go a long way to making the country great, and we certainly can’t underestimate the power of Cancun as a winter hotspot, but at the same time a majority of Mexico, and arguably where her spotless beauty lieshas been hidden from the public eye for years.
Fortunately, things are changing and tourists, including American vacationers, have started venturing further inland in search of “more Mexico”, instead of being isolated in one of the resorts. colossal tourist attractions of the Riviera Maya year after year. This trend translates into real numbers: an increasing number of travelers are looking for more unique experiences during a visit to Mexico.
At the tip of The revival of tourism in Mexico are its colonial towns, many of which are protected by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. One of them, the unknown Guanajuatohas skyrocketed arrival figures, not only because it has its own international airport, allowing easier access, but due to the fact that it is simply stunning.
Although many don’t know it, Mexico is where some of the oldest European colonies in the Americas are located. Guanajuato is a prime example, with narrow, winding streets lined with ocher-colored houses mimicking those found in Spain, and Neo-Gothic churches piercing the horizon.
What makes Guanajuato so special?
In 2021 and 2022, it was named the best city in the world according to Travel + Leisure, while Mexico itself considered it the most beautiful in the country this year. Guanajuato is indeed a sight to behold, not to mention bucket list materialbut those who might have wished to keep this gem to themselves a little longer may be disappointed to learn the secret is out.
According to Juan Jose Alvarez Brunel, Guanajuato’s tourism secretary, by the end of 2022 the city should recover roughly 70 percent of its tourists, a much higher rate than entire countries – we see you Australia and Canada – and a surprising figure for a non-coastal city which for the most part has not been a priority for Mexican tourism.
The data was provided by different service providers, including those in the private sector, academics and even the World Tourism Organization. As Brunel says, should Guanajuato keep up the pace, by the end of 2023 it should be back to where it was in 2019 and even “start to grow again”. Doesn’t that sound too impressive?
Well, maybe that’s because the vast majority of Americans visiting Mexico flock to Cancun, and Cancun only. Of course, when it comes to arrivals and gross incomes alone, nothing beats the jewel of the caribbeanbut we must understand that due to its popularity, there are over-representation regarding tourism trends and the Riviera Maya.
In a world where giants like Cancun exist, Guanajuato’s recovery rate is nothing short of stellar.
Much of Mexico’s hard-earned tourist dollars are spent in Cancun, Tulum and other nearby municipalities, and naturally these will rebound much faster, if not completely eclipse, other minor destinations in the country. The fact that Guanajuato is repositioning itself as a much stronger contender this year and continuing to get its share as much of Mexican travel revolves around Caribbean cities is nothing less than stellar.
This achievement is widely attributed to regional tourism authorities, who boldly envisioned Guanajuato as Mexican culture, wine tourism, and capital of gastronomy. Regarding the latter, they have surely enough reasons boast, seeing as UNESCO itself granted Guanajuato’s food scene the status of “World Heritage of Intangible Gastronomy” in 2020.
Currently the currency is:
Guanajuato is where visitors can experience great stories
You might be wondering why, given that Guanajuato might not have been a priority on your planned Mexico itinerary until you came across this article. Allow us to explain why according to the Secretary’s own assertions:
- It is truly one of the main wine tourism destinations in Mexico, being the fourth producer with 43 vineyards*
- Its old town, dating from the 16th century, has been considered by UNESCO as a true architectural marvel
- East Guanajuato a short drive away many other colonial hotspots in Mexico, including charming San Miguel de Allende
- Guanajuato International Airport offers direct flights from several US cities, including Chicago, both Midway and O’Hare, Houston, Dallas and Los Angeles
*21 of these vineyards welcome tourists/guided tours
Other benefits of making Guanajuato your next winter vacation
Once in Guanajuato, tourists have easy access to 46 municipalities in the state, including its eponymous capital, by means of a “comprehensive road system” crossing the territory and penetrating deep into Mexico. more picturesque and authentic countryside. Other highlights mentioned include:
- Various hotel chains as well as independent accommodation providers
- A myriad of hot springs, spas and wellness centers that will give a hard time to the Mayan worlds
- World-class restaurants (Guanajuato’s cuisine was noted by UNESCO, remember?)
- 20% of the state of Guanajuato is a “protected natural area”home to 45 percent of all bird species in the country – nature lovers here?
- Excellent infrastructure, something we already briefly discussed when writing about San Miguel de Allende
As Mr. Brunel brilliantly puts it, Guanajuato doesn’t have beaches, but it doesn’t need them: its man-made colonial wonders and foodie scene are exactly what sets it apart from the Mexican coast and precisely why it is has been experiencing a revival lately.
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This article originally appeared on Travel Off Path. For the latest breaking news that will affect your upcoming trip, please visit: Traveloffpath.com
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