International buyers and sellers, domestic vendors and state tourism ministries converged on this year’s national Pueblos Mágicos Tianguis (The Magical Towns Bazaar) in Oaxaca on Wednesday. The fair broke a record for exhibitors — 2,200 domestic and international exhibitors in total.
Thirty-two international buyers and 28 tourism ministries also participated.
The Pueblos Mágicos, or Magical Towns, program — a federal initiative begun 21 years ago in the hopes of encouraging the decentralization of tourism in Mexico from just its beaches and biggest cities — promotes certain of the nation’s small towns under the premise that they are the repositories of cultural, social and artistic traditions vital to the country’s fabric.
The program helps towns with the designation to become more attractive to both Mexican and international tourists. Winning the designation gives Pueblos Mágicos access to federal funding and promotional resources that might not otherwise be available to them.
The four-year-old fair was first held in 2019 in Pachuca, Hidalgo, and is an outgrowth of the older National Festival of Pueblos Mágicos.
This year’s event was held at the Oaxaca Cultural and Convention Center in Oaxaca city. The capital of the state of Oaxaca, Oaxaca city is one of Mexico’s most emblematic small cities.
The state’s art and food was on full display, alongside representatives from many other Magical Towns. Fifty traditional cooks from different regions set up food stands to feed the hundreds of visitors, and representatives from the 132 Pueblos Mágicos promoted their locations with regional crafts and music, giveaways and promotional materials.
Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat Hinjosa assured the crowds that tourists are currently ooking for unique experiences. “… and this is what Pueblos Magicos represent: a celebration of the diversity and the grandeur of each region.”
Federal Tourism Secretary Miguel Torruco Marqués told the crowds that, for towns with the distinction, economic activity increases by 8% annually on average.
The federal government is continuing to invest further in such initiatives, he said, in programs such as Rutas Mágicos de Color (Magical Routes of Color) — which makes funds available to Pueblos Mágicos for infrastructure and construction projects to improve urban spaces.
As part of the program, the Ministry of Agricultural, Territorial and Urban Development (Sedatu) has carried out 144 public works projects between 2019 and 2022, with an investment of more than 3.2 billion pesos, Torruco said.
Officials also used the fair to announce a new agreement between Mexico’s northern states, in which they promised to support and promote tourism in their region as a whole. Signatories to the agreement included the states of Nuevo León, Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, Sinaloa, Baja California, Sonora, Baja California Sur, Tamaulipas and San Luis Potosí.
Federal officials also used the event to announce that the fair has gone international: 2022 was also the first year that a version of the fair was held outside Mexico — in Barcelona, and officials revealed that in addition to holding the fair next year in Hidalgo, a version of the fair would also be held in Los Angeles, California, home to the largest Mexican population outside of Mexico.