As Mexico pulls into first place worldwide in terms of cruise ship visitor arrivals, a new cruise ship port in Sonora moved a step closer to reality last Friday.
The governors of Sonora and Arizona signed a memorandum of understanding to allow firms in Arizona to service cruise ships docking at Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point, in the Sea of Cortés.
Although the port is only about 50% completed, Sonora Tourism Secretary Héctor Platt Mazón said construction of the pier and terminal can now be expected to resume.
He said the assurance that goods and services would be available from Arizona was crucial to making the port a success.
Governor Claudia Pavlovich was confident that the agreement would help free up federal funds to finish the job.
She also pointed out the advantages of cruise ship services coming from Arizona rather than Hermosillo, Sonora’s capital.
The latter is six hours from Puerto Peñasco while Phoenix is half the distance, making it more logical that the supplies the ships need — from linens to flowers for 3,000 passengers at a time — come from Arizona.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey sees a cruise ship port at Puerto Peñasco — often referred to as Arizona’s beach — as a big win for his state.
Not only will it be beneficial for the citizens of Arizona who like going on cruises, he said, but improved roads and a better border crossing should also result.
The agreement also calls for the two states to be partners in promoting the port.
Although the federal government has only committed half the US $60 million required to build the facility, the Sonora government says ships will likely begin arriving at Puerto Peñasco in 2019.
Mexico’s cruise ship industry has seen a few ups and downs in recent years but things are looking up at present, according to tourism statistics.
Federal Tourism Secretary Enrique de la Madrid said at a meeting with cruise ship operators that Mexico is now the world’s No. 1 destination for international visitors arriving by cruise ship.
Year-to-date figures are 6.48 million arrivals.
The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association said Cozumel is the world’s most popular destination. So far this year the port has welcomed 3.6 million passengers.
De la Madrid said encouraging cruise ship arrivals at key ports such as Puerto Peñasco, Veracruz and Acapulco was important in the eyes of the federal government. Those destinations can be strengthened with the development of more services, which will in turn create quality employment for residents.