As tourism continues to grow in Mexico, more and more destinations are seeking to attract higher numbers of visitors to compete with established hotspots such as Cancún and Los Cabos and cash in on a lucrative market.
The coastal cities of La Paz and Loreto in Baja California Sur, the Costa Alegre in Jalisco and the Riviera Nayarit are all among the emerging destinations that have experienced strong growth, according to statistics from the federal Tourism Secretariat (Sectur).
Mazatlán, Sinaloa, and Huatulco, Oaxaca, are also seeking to build on their existing tourism markets by attracting new investment in the sector.
“The time [in the sun] has to arrive for coastal areas like La Paz and Loreto, considering the success that Los Cabos already has,” John McCarthy, principal of tourism and real estate consultancy Leisure Partners, told the news website Expansión.
“The Baja California peninsula has a lot more to offer yet,” he added.
In order to develop destinations, McCarthy said, more hotels and entertainment venues are needed.
Visitor numbers to La Paz and Loreto grew by 12% and 26% respectively last year but the number of hotel rooms only increased by 2% in the former city and remained the same in the latter.
McCarthy added that to sustain growth in emerging destinations, tourists need to be drawn from a wider range of source countries as almost 80% of all international tourists to Mexico come from the United States and Canada.
Gustavo Ripol, who along with McCarthy is a founding partner of Leisure Partners, said that four projects in Huatulco will increase the number of hotel rooms in the resort city by 70% over the next few years.
He also said that Mazatlán has managed to reduce the perception of insecurity associated with the city and in turn had managed to increase its visitor numbers.
The city hosted the Tianguis Turístico — Mexico’s largest tourism industry event — in April, while hotel chain Pueblo Bonito and real estate development company Vicasa are planning large-scale developments there.
In Costa Alegre — a series of 43 beaches, capes and bays distributed along the Pacific coast between Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, and Manzanillo, Colima — more luxury tourism projects similar to the existing El Careyes resort are planned but tourism industry experts say that more transport infrastructure needs to be built in the region because it currently lacks an airport that is nearby and good highways.
Almost 40 million international visitors came to Mexico last year and spent over US $21 billion in the country.
Mexico is now the sixth most visited country in the world and Tourism Secretary Enrique de la Madrid said in February that annual international tourist numbers could reach 50 million by 2021.
Record visitor numbers continued in the first quarter of 2018, testament to de la Madrid’s statement last week that the upsurge in violent crime has not deterred foreign or domestic tourists from visiting Mexico’s beaches, magical towns and largest cities.
Source: Expansión (sp)