Tourism in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, could take up to five years to recover to pre-pandemic levels, according to the head of the local chapter of the Mexican Employers Federation (Coparmex).
Jorge Alberto Careaga said the current estimate is that it will take three to five years to get back to the visitor numbers and revenue levels of 2019 when tourism injected some 42 billion pesos (US $1.9 billion) into the economy of the Pacific Coast resort city.
He said that official data shows that 3,762 tourism sector workers lost their jobs in Vallarta due to the pandemic and associated economic restrictions and only 862 have returned to work since the economy began to reopen.
“This represents … the recovery of [just] one-fifth of the jobs lost,” Careaga said.
With Puerto Vallarta heavily dependent on tourism revenue, local business owners say it’s urgent that all levels of government develop new strategies to promote the destination.
Gabriel Igartúa Sánchez, a hotel owner and president of Coparmex’s national tourism commission, said the coronavirus downturn has hit Vallarta so hard that the tourism industry is at “risk of extinction.”
He said that visitor numbers increased slightly in July and August but noted that about 40 hotels are currently closed.
Igartúa said that the start of the new school year last week caused visitor numbers to plummet and forced some hotels to close for a second time this year. He also said that tourism revenue was down about 70% in recent months compared to the same period last year.
Igartúa said the federal government needs to approve additional resources for tourism promotion, explaining that keeping Vallarta at the forefront of the minds of people who live in “our main markets is a very important factor” in attracting them to the destination.
While the resort city is popular with international tourists, most visitors come from Guadalajara, located about 330 kilometers east, and Bajío region states, the Coparmex tourism official said.
One positive for the destination is its “land connectivity” to its key markets, Igartúa said, describing the ease of getting to Vallarta by road as a factor that differentiates it from other resort cities in Mexico.
The recovery of tourism destinations across the country is expected to be slow as many people remain wary of traveling.
The Jalisco government has committed 100 million pesos (US $4.6 million) to efforts to revive tourism in Vallarta while its federal counterpart is optimistic that the new Visit México website will allow tourism promotion to reach new audiences and open new markets.
Source: El Economista (sp)