A recent travel warning issued by the U.S. Department of State has left meeting planners wondering if it’s safe to travel to Mexico.
The warning was issued due to criminal activities such as homicide, kidnapping and carjacking in various Mexican states such as Baja California Sur, which has had an increase in homicide rates since 2016. Prevue went straight to the source about these recent issues, asking Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board about the travel warning and what exactly it means for meetings.
How has the recent travel warning to Mexico affected Los Cabos, and how accurate would you say the warning is from your perspective?
Esponda: Los Cabos today is a safe and secure destination that welcomes more than 2 million international travelers from all over the world each year. As one of Mexico’s top tourist destinations, we understand that a secure travel environment is critical to the continued success of Los Cabos as a thriving destination. Regarding the recent travel warning update from the U.S. State Department, we continue to reiterate our commitment to provide a safe environment, and we are working in close coordination with authorities and all levels of law enforcement to strengthen our security measures and ensure the safety of all visitors and tourists in Los Cabos.
Like any destination, travel is cyclical and there are a number of issues that influence tourism, including economic, environmental and social factors. Recent growth in arrivals from international visitors, investment from hotel chains and increase in air connectivity to the destination speak to the confidence from the hospitality industry in Los Cabos. From January to August 2017, international arrivals to Los Cabos reached a record high, growing by more than 20 percent versus 2016. Simply put, in the bigger picture, travel to Los Cabos is still up.
What is the current state of international travel to Los Cabos for specifically meetings?
Los Cabos is experiencing an impressive and sustained wave of growth, doubling the pace of Mexico as a whole at 20 percent. This year alone, hotel occupancy is up by more than 6 percent. As a meetings destination, Los Cabos continues to attract many large-scale events such as Open of Surf, Los Cabos Tennis Open, Ironman 70.8 and Los Cabos International Film Festival. Additionally, for the first time ever the Extreme Sailing series, a world-class sailing event will visit Los Cabos for the final stage of its championship gathering the world best sailing teams and sports fans from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 of this year.
Despite the travel warning, how is Los Cabos growing its infrastructure for meetings?
Los Cabos is experiencing an infrastructure boom to meet demand for growing connectivity and occupancy. There are 4,700 new rooms expected to be added from 2017 to 2021, welcoming more than 15 new hotel projects from more than 16 international and national hotel chains with an investment of more than $900 million. The airport is also undergoing a renovation and launching a new terminal in 2018, which represents a more than $50 million investment.
Why should meeting planners bring groups to Los Cabos compared to other destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean?
Los Cabos stands alone as the crown jewel of destinations in Mexico, offering a distinct experience that sets it apart. Meetings planners should always consider Los Cabos as a premier destination for events due to the following factors:
- Proximity to the U.S.: With more than 500 weekly frequencies, Los Cabos offers direct routes with 22 cities in the United States, with most flights being under three hours to the destination. In terms of priority markets, the U.S. ranks first among foreign visitors to Mexico with 80 percent of all foreign tourist arrivals
- Customer Service: What sets Los Cabos apart is its lively and authentic spirit in the community. In fact, 90 percent of people that live here work directly or indirectly in tourism and are fully committed to the destination’s success.
- Ideal Weather: With 350 sunny days a year, Los Cabos offers a unique opportunity for meeting and events to take place any time of the year.
- Attention to Detail: Unlike many destinations, Los Cabos’s growth as a tourism epicenter if focused on quality over quantity. The average hotel has 250 rooms, making attention to detail and impeccable service standards a hallmark of Los Cabos’ offerings bar none.