Safety concerns prompt Princess to cancel Puerto Vallarta calls

In a major development for Mexico Riviera cruising, industry giant Princess Cruises has canceled calls in Puerto Vallarta for the rest of the year, citing safety concerns.

The move comes three months after Princess and several other lines pulled out of nearby Mazatlan, Mexico, also over safety concerns.

“As the safety and security of our passengers and crew is our highest priority, and based on the continued violence in these areas, we’ve made the decision to cancel our calls to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan,” Princess spokeswoman Karen Candy tells USA TODAY.

While several lines have dropped calls in Mazatlan this year, Princess is the first major operator to cancel calls in Puerto Vallarta, and the move raises questions about the viability of the Mexican Riviera as a cruise destination.

Link to article.

[Fulano’s note: With Puerto Vallarta now being bypassed by cruise lines, as well as Acapulco and Mazatlan which were dropped earlier this year, the remaining Mexican Riviera destinations of Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada also become less viable. Fewer people will be willing to take a 7-day cruise if they can only disembark in two Mexican ports.]


Americans Living in Baja Will Promote Positive Image of the State In US

[Translated by Fulano from an article in Spanish.]

Dozens of Americans living in Baja California, in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism, met to organize a committee on the image and perception of the state, which will seek strategies to improve the image of the region in the United States, said Juan Tintos Funcke, Baja California’s Secretary of Tourism.

The Tourism Secretary said that this workshop is a very specific strategy, in which Americans living in Mexico made important proposals to change the perspective of residents in the United States about Mexico and thereby increase foreign tourism.

“In the struggle they are helping us with their countrymen, through their organizations, communications media, social networks, through events and other actions that will include travelling with us on working tours, news media meetings, primarily in California, to speak well of Baja California,” explained the head of Secture.

He stressed that this will serve as testimony that the conditions in the state have improved and are presented so that tourists will return.

Bernadette Schmuker is a resident of Ensenada and explained that the American community is aware that in many cases only negative information is presented in the foreign media, which damages the Baja California economy, of which they also benefit.

“Letting people know that here in Baja California we live well, we live at ease. Yes it has its problems but we’re all in this together and want to help improve things. The fact that I speak Spanish means that I have lived her for 24 years, living in Ensenada, and I live well. I feel good, like someone from here. I work, I’m happy, I choose to live in Mexico, in Ensenada,” said Schmuker.

It should be mentioned that the workshop began on 8 June, in a renowned hotel in the city of Rosarito.

[Fulano’s note: Bernadette Schmuker works for Baja Country Club where she markets houses to gringos.]


Dueling Mexican Headlines

[First the contradictory Spanish news and then Fulano’s translation.]

Violencia sí ha afectado turismo de Puerto Vallarta: edil

March 1, 2011 – México.- En entrevista con W Radio, Salvador González, alcalde de Puerto Vallarta reconoció que “la realidad es que (la violencia) sí ha pegado. Es parte de una campaña de Estados Unidos donde replican cualquier hecho que sucede en el país por pequeño que sea. Los números son claros, el número de estadounidenses en Puerto Vallarta ha bajado”.

Link to article.

No ha bajado turismo en Jalisco por inseguridad

March 2, 2011 – Guadalajara, Jal.- El secretario de turismo en Jalisco Aurelio López Rocha, aseguró que la inseguridad que se ha registrado en la entidad no ha afectado la afluencia turística, sobre todo en destinos de playa como Puerto Vallarta, de hecho aseguró que cerraron 2010 con un 5 por ciento de aumento de turistas nacionales y extranjeros tanto de Estados Unidos como de Canadá.

Link to article.

Now the English translation:

Violence Has Affected Tourism in Puerto Vallarta: Mayor

March 1, 2011 – Mexico – In an interview with W Radio, Salavador Gonzalez, mayor of Puerto Vallarta recognized that, “the reality is that (the violence) has affected us. It is a campaign in the US where they repeat any event that happens in our country, no matter how insignificant. The numbers are clear, the number of Americans in Puerto Vallarta has dropped.”

Tourism Has Not Declined in Jalisco Due To Insecurity

March 2, 2011 – Guadalajara, Jalisco – The Jalisco minister of tourism, Aurelio Lopez Rocha, assured that the insecurity occurring in the state has not affected the flow of tourists at all the beach destinations like Puerto Vallarta, and he assured that 2010 closed with a 5% increase in domestic and foreign tourists such as Americans and Canadians.


Tijuana Gets A Dose of Reality

Mario Escobedo Lavín

Mario Escobedo Lavín, the president of the Committee On Tourism and Conventions of Tijuana (known as COTUCO by its Spanish initials), said, “Let’s be realistic, tourism in the city will not return to the prior levels, I calculate it will take 10 years before maybe the Americans will return to the city.” He then went on to blame everything on the US, by stating that after the US government invested millions of dollars to discredit Tijuana, it will be a difficult task that cannot be solved in three years.

“Hopefully, we will see the recovery of American tourism in the next 10 years, but I believe we will not solve this problem overnight, it could take up to 20 years,” surmised the organization’s president.

Link to article in Spanish.

…and in other news, six people were murdered in Tijuana on Saturday, March 5, 2011 and 16 were murdered this last week. Somehow the people in the US government responsible for discrediting Tijuana must have missed that news because not one word of this has appeared in any English language newspapers.

Link to AFN article on 6 murders in Tijuana.


Mazatlan: Taxi Blockade Upsets Tourists

Just another Mexican cluster-flop.

The seemingly unending dispute between taxi companies and private transportation companies over who has the right to transport passengers from the city to the airport once again resulted in a blockade of a private transport bus picking up tourists to take to the airport. The confrontation occurred at the popular Mayan Sea Garden Hotel in Cerritos.

American tourist cries after being
caught in confrontation between
taxis and tour operators

At 10am yesterday morning red taxis blocked the exit of the private King David transport van for over an hour as drivers argued and van passengers, most of whom spoke no Spanish, looked around nervously wondering what was happening.

Finally transportation inspectors arrived. Rather than ask the van driver for his permit to transport tourists to the airport, the inspectors asked a tourist to see his itinerary which would include airport transportation. When the tourist could not provide it, inspectors issued a fine to the King David company.

Not satisfied, the taxis maintained their blockade until three public security patrol cars with 14 officers and two more municipal transport vehicles arrived and attempted to calm the chaos as anxious passengers looked on.

After heated discussions, David Pérez, owner of King David transport, agreed to let his passengers disembark and pay their taxi fare to the airport.

Pérez told media he agreed because he did not want any more “shows,” that he cares about the image that the dispute engendered, that he was fined and left. The tourists were crying, he said, and he felt obliged to avoid any further disruption.

One anonymous taxi driver was quoted as saying it was not fair that taxi drivers wait from three o’clock in the morning to pick up airport fares and “el señor” comes and takes them all.

In the end, the tourists, taxi drivers and Pérez all called on Federal authorities to solve this impasse which continues to damage Mazatlán’s reputation as a friendly beach resort.

Link to article.


Tiene turismo caída drástica en Rosarito

[Fulano’s translation follows the original news story in Spanish.]

Link to article in Spanish.

Rosarito, Baja California – La caída en el sector hotelero en Rosarito es sumamente drástica, al registrarse apenas un 20% de ocupación durante el 2010, declaró Gustavo Torres, director de Desarrollo Económico y Turismo del Ayuntamiento.

Explicó que la recuperación en el renglón turístico ha sido muy difícil ante el miedo y la percepción de inseguridad que prevalece entre los visitantes californianos y hasta regionales, dando como resultado que los niveles en la caída de ocupación hotelera sean inéditos.

Torres Ramírez, refirió que los cachanillas han contribuido de manera determinante para que la situación de los hoteleros pudiera ser llevadera ya que es el segmento que más visitó Rosarito.

Otro sector que también ha sido muy golpeado dijo el funcionario, es el inmobiliario que apenas logró registrar ventas por 150 casas y condominios, durante el año que recién concluyó.

Explicó que por ejemplo en el 2007 había ventas por más de 300 unidades anuales, lo que refleja que la caída registrada en el 2010 fue del 50% en comparación con ese año y que por si fuera poco los precios por las propiedades, sobre todo las de los complejos turísticos disminuyeron.

Dijo que no se tiene contabilizado las afectaciones a otros sectores relacionados con el turismo, como el restaurantero, mueblero y otros, pero se espera que para este año se puedan tener datos más concretos para mejorar las estrategias de promoción y que todos se beneficien en conjunto.

*     *     *     *     *

Rosarito, Baja California – The drop in the hotel sector in Rosarito is very dramatic, registering only a 20% occupancy in 2010, said Gustavo Torres, director of Economic Development and Tourism for the City.

He explained that the recovery in tourism has been very difficult due to fear and the perception of insecurity which prevails among California visitors and even those from other regions, the result of which the drop in hotel occupancy levels have been unpublished.

Torres Ramírez, said that the Cachanillas [residents of Mexicali] have contributed decisively, such that the situation was made more bearable as they are the ones who visited Rosarito the most.

Another sector that has also been badly beaten, the official said, is real estate sales which barely managed to register 150 house and condominium sales for the year just ended.

He explained that, as an example, in 2007 there were sales of more than 300 units per year, reflecting a decline of 50% in 2010 when compared with 2007, and to top it off prices for properties, especially those of resorts, declined.

He said no one has recorded the effects on other related tourist sectors such as a restaurants, furniture and others, but he hopes this year they may have more specific data to help improve promotion strategies that benefit everybody.


Sé Turista en Tu Estado

Tourism is down in Baja California. Way down. The Baja California Tourism Ministry has been running a promotion for over a  year now called, “Sé Turista en Tu Estado” [Be a Tourist In Your Own State]. This is aimed at Mexicans and offers discounts on hotels and travel packages in Baja California. Their website has a reservation function where you can select the city and hotel you want, check room rates and make a reservation.

So, Fulano thought it would be a good idea to see what they are charging Mexicans and what they are charging Americans. Going through the Spanish-language website run by the Tourism Ministry, I checked the room rates for the cheapest non-ocean view room at the Rosarito Beach Hotel for Saturday, August 28, 2010. The rate, including all taxes, for one night, two adults and a king-size bed, was quoted at $98. I could have pressed a button and made a confirmed reservation from that website.

Then I went over to the English language website for the Rosarito Beach Hotel and checked the quoted rate for the exact same room on the same day. The rate, including all taxes, for one night, two adults and a king-size bed, was quoted at $133.51, 36% more!

Such a deal.