Mexico’s Puerto Vallarta Continues to Increase in Popularity

Puerto Vallarta Hotel Zone

Puerto Vallarta is on a roll, and that’s welcome news for hoteliers, tour operators and agents. The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board reports an increase of over six percent in hotel occupancy for the first six months of 2017. From January to June, the occupancy rate hovered close to 90 percent. By comparison, the numbers for 2016 and 2015 were 73 percent and 70 percent, respectively.

During the first six months of 2017, the Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR) handled 1,843,600 international passenger arrivals. That’s 12.1 percent more than in 2016.

Puerto Vallarta’s natural appeal is evident. Mountains, jungles, sea and the largest natural bay in Mexico form a backdrop no other destination can claim. But, additional factors draw in visitors, as well.

Jessica Pentland, owner of Clementine Travels, has sold family vacations to Puerto Vallarta.

“I’m a sucker for the artists, the cobblestone streets and the authenticity of it. Mexican daily life is so charming and the people are so kind, it’s one of my favorite places across the board,” Pentland tells Travel Agent.

Puerto Vallarta aerial

Tour operators cultivate the family travel segment with a range of excursions and activities.

“Puerto Vallarta is the best of the best for families. Other destinations aren’t as well-defined for young kids. Los Cabos is all about adrenaline. The Caribbean side is more about staying in resorts. Once you go outside, the young kids are too small to do a cenote or enjoy the pyramids,” Divina Araiza, ecommerce and guest relations manager for The Adventures Group, tells Travel Agent.

The Adventures Group is an adventure tour powerhouse. Outposts throughout the country include Vallarta Adventures, Cabo Adventures and Cancun Adventures, among others.

In Puerto Vallarta, offerings range from sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving to zip lining, whale watching and trips to traditional and colonial villages.

A Puerto Vallarta native, Araiza is particularly proud of the attention on her home town these days.

“There used to be no roads to get here. In the past ten or twenty years, the destination has grown more than ever expected. From 2009 to the present, we didn’t have any record-breaking years. But, it’s happened in 2017. We’re pretty happy about it,” said Araiza.

The Adventures Group also offers destination wedding planning services through their Adventure Weddings Vallarta brand.

Packages include wedding ceremonies at Las Caletas, the former home of director John Huston. Accessible only by sea, it’s located on a stretch of the Banderas Bay coast, surrounded by a secluded cove and white sand beach.

Adventure Weddings Vallarta welcomes same-sex weddings. It’s but one of the gay-friendly tourism options in the destination. In fact, one of the first properties specifically marketed to LGBT market is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

Puerto Vallarta Colomitos

Casa Cupula made headlines in 2002 when it became Mexico’s first high-end LGBTQ property. In the years since then, the boutique property has evolved into an 18-room full resort complex. It’s located in the Amapas neighborhood, close to the gay beach, bars, nightclubs and restaurants of the Zona Romántica.

To mark its anniversary, the property is unveiling a new “Frida Suite.” It pays tribute to Frida Kahlo’s love for Mexican traditions and culture. The suite will debut as part of a three-month “quinceañera” celebration of Casa Cupula’s birthday.

A quinceañera is a traditional Mexican celebration to present a 15-year-old into society. Events planned at Casa Cupula include: a quinceañera party on November 24; a drag queen contest, culminating in the crowning of a Casa Cupula brand ambassador; a banquet on December 2 commemorating the property’s role in the LGBT community; and a “major" event, scheduled for January.

Puerto Vallarta’s quest to be inclusive isn’t limited to two-legged visitors. Tourism officials are also highlighting pet-friendly policies. Casa Cupula is but one prominent hotel in the pet-friendly category.

As a whole, tourism officials are doing a commendable job in promoting Puerto Vallarta.

John Diorio, The Mark Travel Corporation regional director of sales for the West/Mountain region tells Travel Agent: “The folks in Puerto Vallarta do good job of getting out there and talking about the destination, hotels, culture and people. Additional airlift is also bringing in more visitors. It is definitely helping us. Volaris will be adding new flights into Puerto Vallarta as of November,” said Diorio.

The recently-updated U.S. State Department Mexico Travel Warning is garnering headlines of late. Added is an expanded section on Quintana Roo State, home to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, the Riviera Maya and Tulum.

As for Jalisco, where Puerto Vallarta is located, there was no substantive change. 

“I have always felt very safe going down to Puerto Vallarta and bringing agents. I am a huge advocate for the destination,” said Diorio.

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