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Charmless Tequila struggles to live up to 'Magic Town' label

Article from Guadalajara Reporter by David Agren 12 November 2005

Tourism officials in town, where the famed drink was born, are trying to attract more visitors to Tequila. Most tourists only visit for the day, viewing factories like La Alborada.

Virtually everyone the world over knows tequila, Mexico's famed firewater. Few, however, know of the town the beverage made famous - something municipal officials in Tequila, Jalisco are striving to change.

Just 30 miles northwest of Guadalajara on the route to Puerto Vallarta, Tequila has always attracted daytrippers, but lacking non-alcoholic attractions, little tourism infrastructure developed. Until recently, the town only offered distillery tours and several tequila-themed museums. But the Mexican tourism secretariat bestowed a Pueblo Magico (Magic Town) designation on Tequila in 2002, which provides extra funds for promotions and municipal improvements. (The southern Jalisco towns of Tapalpa and Mazamitla are also Pueblo Magicos, along with Comala, Colima and San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato).

Tequila spruced up the entry road from the Autopista to the city center with its initial disbursement of three million pesos and later began fixing up the main square. Additionally, Tequila giant Jose Cuervo recently opened Mundo Cuervo, a mammoth complex in the town center. The company also sponsors an Agave Festival each spring, bringing fine arts to the town of 51,000.

"Every year, we have more people coming to Tequila," said Yadira Gaytan, a spokeswoman for the local tourism department, adding most of the influx has been foreign. According to the mayor's annual report, tourist traffic to Tequila has doubled since 2002.

Mundo Cuervo also boasted an impressive, although somewhat lower, growth figure, which spokesman Rodolfo Julian pegged at 20 percent per year.

Still, "There's not enough infrastructure," he acknowledged - something he expected the funds from the Pueblo Magico program would help rectify.

Mundo Cuervo offers a basic tour, outlining the tequila distilling process, for 75 pesos. For 250 pesos, participants visit the company's private cellar for an exclusive tasting session, where they imbibe Jose Cuervo's Reserva de Familia tequila. The tour also takes in Mundo Cuervo's new art gallery, which features works by Jalisco artisans. The neighboring Sauza distillery offers a similar tour.

Sales agents trolling the town center also pitch tours to smaller tequila factories in the outlying areas. A converted trolly offers a novel, and ultimately bumpy and disappointing, way to take in Tequila's sights for 60 pesos. Participants get to peer over the fence of the Sauza mansion, see the outside of the Sauza and Cuervo factories and visit a small distillery for a rushed tour. Tequila mixed with bargain-brand grapefruit pop is also served. And in true Mexican style, the tour operator made prospective participants wait until he had sold enough tickets, leaving the exact departure time a mystery.

After the tours the National Tequila Museum provides a wealth of information on both the town and the beverage. The neighboring central plaza is also pleasant. But that's the extent of Tequila's charm.

Pictures from Tequila, Jalisco 

Source: Guadalajara Reporter - www.guadalajarareporter.com/
Charmless Tequila struggles to live up to 'Magic Town' label
Story by : David Agren - 12 November 2005

Mexico - Last Revision - 14 June 2007 - jat