As part of the group that promotes the Historic Center, Carol Kolozs Fischer, vice president of Tourism for the local Chamber of Commerce, urges the state to build a convention center in the city center.
Today, downtown hotel guests have to shuttle north to the Siglo XXI, nearly 7 km from the Hotel Zone, and slightly farther for guests of Rosas y Xocolate, Kolozs Fischer’s hotel-spa-restaurant. Siglo XXI, a 898,800-square foot facility built in 1997, is served by some distinctly unromantic hotels that are closer, principally the 125-room Holiday Inn Express. But despite the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya and Galerias mall, the Siglo XXI is hardly in a tourist destination.
About $400 million in federal funds are available for tourism infrastructure in the Historic Center of Merida and in his opinion the government must act quickly to develop the project, he told Diario de Yucatán, which the day before published a similar article quoting Hyatt manager Richard Westell.
The convention market, already significant, is poised to attract even more and larger events whose organizers have a strong preference for accommodations to be adjacent to conference space. Shuttling guests is not only inconvenient, but it adds significantly to each convention’s costs.
“I believe that 35 percent or 40 percent of Merida tourism is conventions, meetings and conferences,” said Kolozs Fischer. “We have tremendous potential, so you have to bet and invest. The new enclosure must be downtown.”
Aside from convenience, bringing the convention trade from its present nondescript locale to the historical downtown would also be more appealing to international visitors.
“We have an attractive historic center and Paseo de Montejo invites walking,” said Kolozs Fischer, citing the museums, the planned train station and the park that’s proposed at La Plancha.
A meeting between entrepreneurs and the secretary general of the government, Victor Caballero Duran, had everyone in agreement that the project would attract more tourists. The meeting, held at the Pasaje Picheta on the Plaza Grande, did not settle on an exact location for a new convention center, but Kolozs Ficher said former parking lot behind the Hyatt and Holiday Inn hotels that would be ideal. Another location, identified by local newspapers, was a vacated property a block away on Calle 62, at Avenida Colon.