The Mexican state of Yucatan will operate two fam trips for UK agents this year as it looks to increase awareness of a region it believes is under the radar.

Currently the UK market represents just 2% of annual visitors to the state despite the wealth of cultural and natural attraction it has to offer.

The state is targeting more cruise visitors with plans to expand its port at Progresso and more travellers looking for culture, luxury, sustainability and somewhere off the beaten track.

Yucatan currently has no direct flights from the UK and is hoping to persuade a major operator like Tui to begin services into its capital Merida.

Although the Yucatan Peninsula is well known and popular due to the resort of Cancun it is actually made up of three states: Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche.

Speaking at ITB Berlin last week Enrique Monroy Abunader, head of tourism promotion at Yucatan tourism ministry, said many holidaymakers in Cancun will visit the state on day trip to see the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, but are unaware that the state offers much more.

“Right now people are travelling to Yucatan but they do not know it. It’s all about unique experiences. It’s a very cultural state. We have a gastronomy you can’t find anywhere else in Mexico. The Mayan culture from hundreds of years ago is still alive, you can see it, you can experience it and you can taste it,” he said.

Yucatan is also a place for nature lovers, with its nature reserves including Celestun national park where visitors can see pink flamingos, and adventure-seekers with its coastal areas good for kitesurfing and other water sports.

The state enjoys an average of 300 days of sun a year although August to October is considered its rainy season it is warm all year round.

Abunader said Yucatan is working with tour operators and destination management companies to put what it sees as “Mexico’s best-kept secret” on the map, as well as collaborating with its neighbouring state on the peninsula to cross-promote the region as a multi-centre destination.

“Right now we are looking for some big wins and we also want to launch an advertising campaign in the UK,” he said.

Yucatan hopes to work with the tourist board to host two groups of up to 20 UK agents on fam trips this year, Abunader said.

“We want to ensure that the UK trade can distinguish the Yucatan. It is the heart of the Mayan culture, it is where you can really taste it and see it and even speak with real Mayan people.”

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