Despite Los Cabos’ inclusion in the updated State Department Mexico travel warning last month, the destination’s tourism sector remains strong, Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board, tells Travel Agent.
“Los Cabos is a very particular destination in many regards,” Esponda says. “It has had a very particular connection with the U.S. since it first started to be a [tourism] destination.”
International visitation to Los Cabos has grown 20 percent year over year between January and July, Esponda says. That’s double the growth grate for Mexico as a whole. The destination has also seen a rise in airlift, with 27 percent more seats on tap for September over the same time last year. In 2018, Southwest Airlines is adding additional flights from two of the destination’s markets in California, Sacramento and San Jose.
When asked about the shooting on Playa Palmilla, a beach reportedly frequented by tourists, in early August, Esponda says security continues to be a priority.
“With these types of isolated incidents, it’s understandable it has raised concerns,” Esponda says. “Because of these isolated incidents, there have been very specific measures that the public and private sector have put in place, and we’ve been working to make sure that the destination is safe.”
In response to the incidents Los Cabos has enacted a five-point action plan in a partnership between the public and private sector, which Esponda encourages travel agents to share with clients who may have concerns. The plan includes:
- Creating a “Rapid Response Network”: Los Cabos is developing real-time and ongoing communications between local hoteliers and businesses to share information on suspicious activity or reported incidents, as well as to alert the appropriate authorities and law enforcement.
- Accelerating the Security Surveillance System Expansion: The destination is extending its surveillance camera network with the goal of installing more than 200 new cameras, especially in high-traffic tourist areas, by the end of the year.
- Building a New Marine Base: The new base will significantly increase the presence of the Mexican Marine Corps to manage the expanded surveillance system and amplify law enforcement activity.
- Organizing a Hotel Security Committee: Working with the Hotel Association, the new committee meets biweekly to address any concerns, share best practices and update security protocols.
- Setting New Training and Security Protocols: Local hoteliers and business are implementing new security training programs and protocols aligned with OSAC standards (Overseas Security Advisory Council) to improve preparedness.
Esponda also reports that Los Cabos hasn’t seen much impact from another security story that has been making headlines in Mexico lately, a series of media reports involving allegations of tainted alcohol at resorts in Playa del Carmen and Cancun.
“Fortunately Los Cabos does not have any problems at all related to tainted alcohol,” Esponda says. “It’s a very particular destination in many regards...The vast majority of hotels are small in size and high quality, so that’s been an element that we’ve always had.”
Esponda also points to the destination’s growing hotel development as a sign of confidence in Los Cabos.
“Currently we have 20 new hotels that are being built, so that’s a sign of trust,” Esponda says. Montage and Ritz-Carlton Reserve are both opening in 2018, as well as a new golf course by Jack Nicklaus, a Four Seasons, and the first Nobu property in Mexico.
“I think that we are starting into high season, that is the fall and winter season, and it brings a lot of interesting opportunities for travelers when they are planning to come,” Esponda says. He points to a number of events coming up, such as the largest sport fishing tournament in the world; an ironman competition; a film festival; and an extreme sailing race.
Esponda encourages travel agents with questions and concerns to reach out to him directly at [email protected].