ATM honours Cancun recovery

Arabian Travel Market has announced that the Mexican resort of Cancun had been honoured with the New Frontiers Award 2007. he award was presented during the annual ATM exhibitors’ party at the Grand Hyatt Dubai for Cancun’s remarkable recovery and positive contribution to tourism development in the face of the overwhelming devastation caused by Hurricane Wilma.

Tom Nutley, Chairman, Reed Travel Exhibitions, commented, “With considerable support from local state and federal government plus international aid agencies such as the Red Cross, the local residents of Cancun made an indelible impact on tourism development. Together they have now managed to rebuild the battered coastline, improved its shattered local economy, which was losing
US$ 15 million per day and now tourism numbers are once again approaching levels not seen since before Wilma.”

Besides a commemorative crystal trophy, Cancun also received a truly innovative reward of US$ 10,000 worth of complimentary exhibition space at Arabian Travel Market 2008.

Accepting the award, Nigel Bolding, Publisher of Mexico Chic, said “I am proud to accept this award on behalf of Cancun. It is an honour indeed to be recognised in this way for all of our hard work and the way in which the resort has bounced back after Wilma. Cancun is a very popular holiday destination for tourists from all over the world, including the Middle East and the opportunity to participate at Arabian Travel Market next year will undoubtedly support our marketing drive to encourage even more tourists to visit Cancun and sample some unique Mexican hospitality.”

Cancun was chosen by a panel of judges consisting of regional and international industry professionals. Originally, ten destinations were chosen, such as Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, Mozambique and Northern Ireland, who had all made tremendous strides after suffering from either man-made or natural disasters. However, only three destinations were shortlisted, Cancun, Lebanon and Vietnam.

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Ultimately, Cancun was selected after taking into consideration a number of decisive factors such as, their utilisation of aid packages, support from local and national government, tangible efforts of recovery and the sheer determination of the human spirit.

In October 2005, category 4 Wilma slammed into Mexico’s Yucat├ín Peninsula at over 150 mph and lasted for more than 60 hours. When it had passed, an 8-mile stretch of Cancun’s beach was almost washed away. Insured damage alone was close to US$8 billion and the hurricane is said to have cost Cancun and the local tourism industry over US$15 million daily.

The beaches were stripped of their silver sand during the storm and the Mexican government paid US$ 24 million to dredge offshore sand and pump it back to resorts. Cancun now boasts beaches better than they have been at any time in the last 15 years.

In less than a year, out of a total of 27,500 rooms, over 24,500 were fully restored. This prompted the United Nations World Tourism Organisation to declare Cancun a model to emulate in the aftermath of future disasters.

Prem Patel, Director of Marketing, American Express Middle East concurred, “The way in which Cancun has recovered from Hurricane Wilma is nothing short of miraculous. It is difficult to imagine suffering 150 mph winds for over 60 hours, their determination and spirit are both humbling and awe inspiring. We sincerely wish Cancun every success participating at Arabian Travel Market in 2008.”

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