Tourism Mexico links part 2
Who does the best job promoting Mexican tourism on the web? Not surprisingly, it's a cadre of talented individuals as well as city and state agencies. Last month's review of larger institutional websites may have been a bit cynical, but in this column we check out a few of the innovative and traveler-friendly rest stops on the information highway.
Tourist Guide of the State of Oaxaca
Rating: 4/5 Stars
If Mexico's national tourism secretariat (SECTUR)'s website is difficult to navigate, what's a better example? Savvy developers from Oaxaca's tourism office (SEDETUR) created this site to promote tourism - Oaxaca's leading economic income - in a way that educates as well as tempts visitors.
Long a favorite site for information on Oaxaca, the website boasts hundreds of files with general information and details on specific destinations in the state. Best of all, the site leaves nothing to chance. You'll see exactly where the state is located and the developers provide detailed travel info, whether you're visiting from Mexico or from abroad. You'll find background on internationally heralded events, such as the Guelaguetza fiesta of native dance or the Noche de Rabanos (Night of the Radishes) held on Christmas Eve.
There are photos galore, though the site can just as easily be visited in the text-only mode for those with slower connections. There is even a bulletin board ( http://oaxaca-travel.com/wwwboard/index.html) where you can post your own queries or read the messages others have left behind.
The Pacific Coast of Oaxaca
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Another top choice for information on Oaxaca is Tom Penick's excellent Pacific Coast of Oaxaca site which has profiles of Huatulco, Puerto Angel, Zipolite and Puerto Escondido. The site combines information about hotels and restaurants with details on surfing, scuba diving and the regional history.
Webmaster Penick is a Oaxaca aficionado, living not in Mexico but in Austin, Texas. Created in 1994, this archive was one of the first travel-related websites on Mexico. The site is simple and efficient - not graphics heavy though what is depicted is excellent - photos and Mixtec designs. There are city and topographic maps. A language map shows the native languages in what is now the state of Oaxaca at the time of the Spanish conquest. Geographic Positioning Systems (GPS) data is being added to these pages to assist travelers equipped with these devices.
Sometimes physical distance limits a website's growth - but in this case it helps the webmaster keep an objective eye on the impact of tourism. Penick explains that the site differs from most because he presents a complete picture of the area, including both the good and the bad. When Hurricane Pauline crashed into Puerto Escondido last fall, it was this site, not the government site that had the most up-to-date details. Be sure to check out the Visitor's Comments page ( http://www.eden.com/~tomzap/comments.html).
Acapulco Travel Net
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Another site that distinguished itself during the crisis of Hurricane Pauline is Acapulco Travel Net. It provided information on the storm to residents of the city and their relatives throughout the world.
The bread and butter of the site is general tourism information. Want to find a place to stay? Looking for some off-the-beaten track suggestions? The info is here. Kudos to the developers here for providing the background on the city's history, its hotels, beaches, discos and restaurants in a variety of languages: English, Spanish, French and German. While web translation services are improving (see http://babelfish.altavista.digital.com), it's a good gesture and even better business providing the basic information in the language of your clients.