Source = e-Travel Blackboard: Mark Harada
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The 150th anniversary this year of the Cinco de Mayo will be a chance for the Mexican state of Puebla to showcase itself to the world, says Puebla Secretary of Tourism Angel Trauwitz Echeguren.
Often mistaken by Americans for Mexico’s Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
And although the annual festival is observed more predominantly in the United States, it is still celebrated regionally in Mexico, particularly in its ‘birthplace’ of Puebla.
“This year marks a very, very important year for Puebla,” Mr Trauwitz Echeguren told e-Travel Blackboard in an interview.
“The 150th anniversary of Cinco de Mayo and the Battle of Puebla will be like a platform for us to jump and to be known on an international level.”
To help commemorate the anniversary, the Government of Puebla this week launched a campaign inviting Americans to the region.
Using the slogan ’5 de Mayo, Celebrate in Puebla’, authorities hope to inspire visitors to explore the state’s wide variety of attractions, which include the Great Pyramid of Cholula, historic churches, museums, restaurants and natural scenery.
The celebration will culminate with the grand parade and a re-enactment of the battle, which took place during the early years of the American Civil War.
“Puebla is one of Mexico’s historical, cultural and culinary treasures, the place where corn, or maize, was first discovered,” 5 de Mayo Planning Committee Washington DC Representative Eric Rojo said.
“With a wealth of natural wonders and cultural diversity, industry, and entertainment, it is simply a place that connects US history with Mexico’s history.”
Last year, over 7 million people visited Puebla and its capital city of the same name, reflecting year-on-year growth of 16 per cent, while tourism spend totaled more than 7 billion pesos (US$575 million).
And despite much of this tourism being sourced domestically, Mr Trauwitz Echeguren said he expected international visitor numbers to grow significantly as more and more people discovered the “cultural richness” of the region.
“There is so much more to Mexico than beautiful white beaches,” Mr Trauwitz Echeguren said, highlighting Puebla’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic center, as well as its “Magic Villages” – destinations selected by the federal government as part of a plan to boost tourism to the Mexican interior.
“If you don’t know Puebla, you don’t really know Mexico.”
Augmenting international growth, according to the secretary, will be direct flights between New York and Puebla, via Monterrey, which are expected to begin in April.