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Mexico & WestJet Vacations celebrate route to Mérida

Posted on January 19, 2016 by Yury Diana Di Pasquale in Events in Merida and the Yucatan

Mexican government officials and tourism professionals gathered yesterday to share in the anticipation of WestJet’s inaugural flight to Merida, which kicked off its non-stop weekly service on Dec. 14.

Dave Cecco, director of product for WestJet Vacations, was joined by Rodrigo Esponda, regional director of North America, Mexico Tourism Board; Yucatan Governor Rolando Zapata; Mauricio Vila, mayor of Mérida; Yucatan Tourism Secretary Saul Ancona and Mauricio Toussaint, Consul General of Mexico in Toronto, for a press conference highlighting what the direct service from Toronto to the metropolitan city of Merida represents for Mexico’s future.

Merida was announced as an addition to WestJet Vacations’ 2015-2016 brochure earlier this year, with packages featuring several four-star properties and city tours available through WestJet Vacations to be available on a seasonal basis by the airline.

For Esponda, the new service represents an opportunity for Canadians to experience Mexico as more than just a beach destination.

“Yucatan is a gateway to the Mayan culture,” he told those assembled, going on to point out that the number of Canadian visitors to Mexico has seen a growth of 11 per cent in the past two years, with one third of the 1.7 million Canadians who visit Mexico each year hailing from Ontario.

Cecco agreed, describing Merida as a “success story” for WestJet Vacations and explaining that an overwhelming response to the route resulted in an increase of seats and a swapping of the airline’s 737-700 aircraft for the larger Boeing 737-800, which allows for 168 seats.

He later told PAX that like his Mexican companions, he too hopes the route will encourage more Canadians to consider Mexico differently as a travel destination, and the new packages offer a combination of different cultural offerings in addition to the beach.

“I think that this is one of the first of many destinations to come that offers a focus on the cultural elements of Mexico,” he said. “Merida is one of the safest destinations in Mexico, and I think once travellers experience that, and feel more comfortable [venturing off the resort grounds], a demand for reach to more and more destinations will follow.”

During the presentation, Zapata made note of the additional benefits a direct service between Merida and Toronto would have on other cities in the southeast coast of Mexico, connecting its residents with Canada (and vice versa) without having to stop in Mexico City or Cancun first.

“This is a great opportunity to enhance and expand on the relationship between our two countries,” he said. “It is more than just a new route.”

PHOTO: Rodrigo Esponda, regional director of North America, Mexico Tourism Board; Saul Ancona, Secretary of Tourism, Yucatan; Mauricio Vila, mayor of Mérida; Rolando Zapata Governor of the State of Yucatan; Dave Cecco, director of product for WestJet Vacations & Mauricio Toussaint, Consul General of Mexico in Toronto

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