A new aggressive campaign to promote Juarez, Mexico, not only as a leisure town but as a business city and an ideal place for conventions, has begun.

And one of the cornerstones of the campaign includes the first-ever official Juarez tourism and visitor’s center in El Paso, which opens today.

The new campaign, “Juarez: The Gateway to Mexico, Where You Will Make Friends,” aims to boost both the tourism industry and the convention business.

To kick-off the campaign locally, Juarez Major Enrique Serrano will be in El Paso to dedicate the new visitor’s center inside El Paso Saddleblanket.

The visitor’s center will have information about restaurants, hotels, bars and clubs, as well as historic places and other popular attractions that American tourists used to visit.

The center will eventually also offer transportation back-and-forth from El Paso to Juarez, officials said.

The Director of the Bureau of the Juarez Visitor and Conventions Center, Francisco Moreno Villafuerte, said the campaign, organized by the Chihuahua Board Trust iAh Chihuahau!, begun in November when it was officially presented in Albuquerque.

Representatives of the Chihuahua State government, the Association of Hotels and Motels of Juarez, the federal Department of Economy and the Juarez bureau visitor’s center make up the board trust.

This week, the new campaign slogan was presented in El Paso to U.S. and Mexican diplomats, representatives of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce and leaders from the community who gathered at the Camino Real Hotel.

“Instead of only saying ‘come to Juarez,’ we want them to get to know what the city really offers, what really it is about,” Moreno Villafuerte said.

He said Juarez has yearly events worth experiencing, such as the Adventures in Samalayuca, the Chupacabras mountain bike race and the Tequila Festival. It also has several museums, including the recently-inaugurated Rodadora, or Tumbleweed Museum which has the latest technology and is interactive.

Also, Juarez has the Cibeles, Cuatro Siglos and Anita convention centers to accommodate any type of business reunions, expositions or conferences, he added.

“One of our goals is to attract and recuperate the business tourist, especially now that the alert (from the U.S. Department of State) has gone down,” Moreno Villafuerte said.

The U.S. government continues to warn people about the risks of traveling to Juarez. In a Travel Warning issued Jan. 9, the U.S. Department of State recommends people “exercise caution in traveling to the business and shopping districts in the northeast section of Ciudad Juarez and its major industrial parks.”

The advisory only cautions U.S. citizens against nonessential travel to parts of the city that are not tourist destinations. Officials said the campaign will also attempt to change people’s perception that Juarez is a dangerous city.

“We want to recuperate the trust of Americans to visit us once again Juarez,” Moreno Villafuerte said.

The campaign to promote Juarez will last until June and will include presentations to representatives of the business sector in Las Cruces and Santa Teresa as well as in Mexico City, Tijuana, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Torreon and Hermosillo, in the state of Sonora.

Lorena Figueroa may be reached at 546-6129. ___

Tags: mexico, tourism
Photo Credit: A street scene in Cuidad, Juarez, Mexico in 2010. Local tourism authorities want to promote other sections of the city as a convention destination. Astrid Bussink / Flickr.com