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Yucatan still lags behind in meeting tourism

A year ago I commented, in this same space, on the problems that Yucatan was facing for the proper promotion of what is known in the tourism sector as the MICE industry or meeting tourism. One year after the aforementioned column, the situation worsens, because every day that passes without adequate promotion and direction, losses increase due to the maintenance costs of a venue such as the International Congress Center (CIC) and due to the lack of income for the vast value chain of MICE tourism.

It must be remembered that this is one of the industries that most permeates various sectors of the economy, since with an important event they benefit, apart from the venue where the event takes place, hotels, travel agencies, tourist guides , craft shops, restaurants, audio and video providers, banquet services and a long etcetera, which make up the aforementioned value chain.

A little history

Let us briefly recount the situation in recent years. In 2017, before the end of Governor Rolando Zapata’s administration and Saúl Ancona Salazar being in charge of the Tourism Development Secretariat (Sefotur), the Public Trust for the Development of Meeting Tourism in Yucatan (Fideture) was created. A few months later, the CIC was inaugurated, making Yucatán one of the few destinations with two important venues, by joining the Yucatán Convention Center. XXI.

The first director of the trust was Federico Treviño Villarreal, hired by the current Secretary of Tourism, Michelle Fridman Hirsch, already in the administration of Governor Mauricio Vila. Treviño Villarreal had, since his arrival, the opposition of some businessmen of the entity, who managed to dismiss him after two years of public and private pressure.

Since Treviño’s dismissal, it was Virginia Arana Pérez who was in charge of the general direction of the Fideture, while the new director was defined. Arana Pérez was serving as Director of Promotion and Public Relations when she was assigned the direction on a provisional basis. Last month, and after a year and a half without a regular director, the candidacies of Raúl Paz Noriega, Eduardo Yarto Aponte and Gabriela Ibarra González were presented to Fideture. Raúl has been a highly competent Yucatecan tourist official appreciated by the business community in the last four state administrations and has extensive experience in the cruise segment; he is currently the technical secretary of Sefotur. Eduardo, for his part, left the Zacatecas Tourism Secretariat a few months ago and is a professional specialized in the sector that concerns us, the MICE industry. Gabriela was Undersecretary of Promotion in the Yarto administration in Zacatecas.

The result of the vote was six votes in favor of Paz against six votes in favor of Yarto. With the governor’s casting vote, it was Yarto who was finally chosen as the new director of the Fideture.

How were the votes in that session divided? That’s what’s interesting. All six government seats voted for Yarto. The six seats of the private initiative voted in favor of Paz. Among the IP, are the holders of Canaco, Coparmex, Aaprotuy, AMHY, Colón Hotels and Asur. Reviewing each of the owners of the IP representatives in the trust, we see that only two or three have experience in the matter we are talking about. Which makes us infer that the direction of your block vote is, or influenced by those two or three who know about the subject, or for some other reason that we cannot imagine.

Is it that Yarto, if his tenure is confirmed, will be the target of media pressure from businessmen? If so, for what reason?

As long as the new head is not appointed, the one who loses is Yucatan. We have repeatedly heard that it is important to place specialists on the subject in relevant positions, such as the director of Fideture, and not politicians, as is currently happening in some agencies. Yarto, who won the vote, meets the aforementioned requirement: a competent profile and with the necessary relationships to consolidate Yucatan in this area.

The next question that arises is, why has Eduardo Yarto not been given the appointment as head even though he was voted for in the Fideture assembly? And this answer could be even more interesting. The reason seems to be political. Yes, politics and business. Could it be that the government is afraid that if Yarto is assigned, the IP will make his life difficult?

What are the interests that are considered to prevent Yarto from going up? Is it that the former head of tourism in Zacatecas could break with some kind of pact? Or is it that they know something about the former secretary that we do not know? Because to say that he is a ‘foreigner’ from Yucatan as his main defect seems like a comment from the Middle Ages. You, dear reader, could draw your conclusions.

What is a fact is that as long as there is no director, the promotion of the MICE industry in Yucatan will not be in its best shape, making us lose money as a destination.

Final considerations

  1. The head of Sefotur, Michelle Fridman, has managed to stay in the position for four years despite strong rejection from some sectors of society. This, however, has not detracted from her promotional performance.
  2. Tourism is not limited to pleasure tourism; It also needs a defined policy for the MICE sector, and it is the responsibility of Sefotur itself. In this case, Michelle has chosen to turn a blind eye to this responsibility.
  3. While Federico Treviño was the head of Fideture, some businessmen constantly protested through the media. Now they have been quiet and those same businessmen seem happy. What will have made them change their minds?
  4. As long as there is no director of Fideture, with extensive experience and relationships, the monumental International Congress Center and the immense potential that Yucatan has as one of the main meeting destinations in the country, it will continue to collapse.

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