Even More Tourists Coming To Los Cabos

And everyone’s scrambling to prepare
BY: LACEY STORER

Trump might, (or might not), be trying to build a wall between Mexico and the United States, but that’s not stopping the Gringos from coming to Los Cabos for their vacation. According to Luis Genaro Ruíz Hernández, who is the head of the Department of Tourism in Baja California Sur, the number of Americans visiting the area increased by 17.4% last quarter.

And Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico (GAP), which operates San Jose International Airport, just reported that Los Cabos welcomed 21.5% more international tourists in the first four months of this year than the same period in 2016. That’s one reason why Los Cabos is expected to end the year with a count of 3 million visitors, up from 2.2 million in 2016.

This increase in tourism can be seen across several sectors of the industry. By the end of the year, Cabo will have a total of 18,400 hotel rooms (and 5,000 new hotel workers), thanks to several new resorts opening.

And in addition to the big boats we’ve already seen in the bay, another 110 cruise ships are scheduled to come through Los Cabos this year (we did the math for you, that’s roughly 14 cruise ships a month).

On the airline side, a new flight from San Diego to SJD on Southwest that opened in April has already proven successful, according to Rodrigo Esponda, director general of the Los Cabos Tourism Trust (FICTURA), and there’s another new flight from Sacramento on Alaska Airlines scheduled to start in June. And, Esponda says, we can expect to see even more new flights launch this year.

To continue to grow as a tourist destination, and handle a large influx of tourists, requires more and easier flight access. Esponda said the city needs to work with several international airlines to start more routes, mainly from the Midwest and Northwest as well as Canada. But they also want to focus on emerging markets like Colombia, Argentina and Brazil.

Omar Miranda, Manager of Airport Revenue and Marketing at GAP (remember, that’s the SJD airport management, not the clothing chain) said plans are underway hammer out more than $35 million USD in improvements to the airport in anticipation of this air travel growth. According to him, the airport is expected to see 11% more passengers in 2017 than it did last year.

He said there are two phases to the improvements, those that the passengers can see and those that they can’t. The first phase will include improving service as passengers arrive and depart (though he didn’t give specifics as to what that entails). The second phase will deal with improving infrastructure and airport operations, to make it more efficient.

And work began this month on a new terminal at the smaller Cabo San Lucas airport, which will give it the ability to move more than one million passengers. Sebastián Romo, the administrator of the Los Cabos International Airport, predicted that in five years the airport will move 10 million passengers.

Growth in tourism isn’t just happening in Cabo; cities all over Mexico are seeing similar increases in tourism. Last year, more than 32 million people visited Mexico, which is an increase of 9 percent. That was enough of a boost to make Mexico the eighth most popular destination in the world, according to the World Tourism Organization. Mexico tourism revenue was also up from last year, reaching almost $20 billion.

But while the Mexican government recently launched the “We Are For Mexico” campaign to promote national tourism, (traveling Mexicans), and the associated economic boost it provides at a local level, Los Cabos is focused on attracting more international guests. Esponda said that FICTURA has been in talks with tour operators from Japan and Korea, companies who already bring a significant amount of people to other destinations in Mexico. FICTURA would like to see Los Cabos emerge as a romantic destination for Asian tourists, eventually competing with top romantic vacation spots like Hawaii and Fiji.

The FICTURA budget for tourism promotion is roughly $105,000, which might not seem like much when you consider the amount of promotion they want to do, but Esponda said it’s not just FICTURA working to boost Los Cabos tourism. They work with various partners, including airlines, travel companies, the Tourism Promotion Council of Mexico, the hotel association, the timeshare association and the State Department of Tourism. Everyone pitches dinero into the pot.