Beginning January 1, 2004, the 15 percent value-added tax for people attending meetings and conventions in Mexico will be eliminated. The following will now be exempt from VAT: lodging; transportation to and from the airport, or any seaport, to hotel; and food and drink.

The announcement comes as Mexico heightens its interest in business travel, having created a national agency to promote conventions, trade fairs, and incentive trips. The new Mexico Convention Bureau, a division of the Mexico Tourist Board, has named Eduardo Chaillo executive director. For many years Chaillo ran Tianguis, Mexico's largest travel trade show.

The national convention bureau will support Mexico's 18 local and regional bureaus, a number that is expected to rise to 21 in 2004, according to Chaillo. For more information, visit www.visitmexico.com.