Mérida, Yucatán — A business leader who had advocated for a new convention center in the hotel zone got what he wanted: the Yucatán International Convention Center Powered by Samsung opened on Thursday.
The project ends a 23-year drought of major investments in the Centro. The last projects of this scale were the Fiesta Americana in 1995 and the Hyatt Regency in 1993.
Now several hotels are in the works, with more investments certain to follow, said Carol Kolozs Fischer, vice president of tourism for the local Chamber of Commerce.
The colossal building, which was inaugurated by President Enrique Peña Nieto, is on Calle 62 between avenidas Colon and Cupules in the Centro Histórico’s hotel zone.
“Gov. Rolando Zapata Bello listened to us as a civil society and made the right decision, since the Historic Center has not had an investment of this magnitude in many years,” said Kolozs Fischer in an interview that appeared in Diario de Yucatán.
Twenty or 25 years ago, he recalled, the Hyatt and Fiesta Americana hotels were built in the area. From there, growth began, albeit slowly, and now with the Convention Center even before its first event was held, “there are people who are already looking forward, who are already having the vision that this will be successful.”
In addition, he said, there are nine hotels under construction or about to start, and every day there are more investments coming from outside.
“It was totally opportune … there’s definitely going to be a lot of economy around the CIC,” he said.
In 2014, Kolozs Fischer proposed a new, modern convention center in a former parking lot behind the Hyatt Regency. The project eventually landed in another parcel nearby, but that former parking lot became the site of a twin-hotel complex called Paseo 60, which is in its final construction phases.
The Chamber leader is also the owner of Rosas y Xocolate, a 17-room boutique hotel, restaurant and spa on the Paseo de Montejo. It opened in 2009 after Kolozs Fischer renovated a pair of mansions that had been abandoned for 30 years.
Even before 1.2 billion pesos were invested in the new, high-tech complex, business tourism and meetings appeared to be a growing force in Yucatán.
At the Siglo XXI Convention Center — another mid-1990s investment — conventions and expos grew by 85 percent between 2012 and 2017.
Business visitors stay an average of three days and spend around 11,000 pesos, compared to the average recreational visitor who stays 1.75 days and spends an average of 3,500 pesos.
Before the new convention center was built, its operators booked 17 events for 2018. They will bring in more than 24,300 visitors and pump an estimated 321 million pesos.
The first booking at the new convention center is April 25 when the International Congress of Urban Parks convenes its expo. That will bring in speakers from North and South America and tie in with the Gran Parque La Plancha project.
With information from Diario de Yucatán