What a difference two years can make, especially when it comes to tourism in Mazatlan. As part of the 39th annual Tianguis Turistico, Travel Agent sat down with Secretary of Tourism for the state Sinaloa Francisco Manuel Cordoba Celaya who filled us in on all the positive changes happening in Mazatlan.
It was just four years ago that five cruise lines pulled out of the destination due to rising safety concerns. Mazatlan, for all intents and purposes, was not a safe city for tourists in Mexico. Today? That is not the case. In the last two years crime has dropped by 90 percent, making Mazatlan one of the safest destinations for tourism. In fact, four out of the five cruise lines have already returned (Azamara Club Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruises and Princess Cruises). For the 2014/15 season these ships will bring 200,000 tourists to Mazatlan. 2013 saw three million tourists to Sinaloa, with 2.5 million visiting Mazatlan.
But the biggest news out of the destination is a new turnpike which is slated to be completed in the next few weeks. This turnpike will cut the trip from the airport to the city by 40 minutes, down from an hour to 20 minutes.
Undeveloped land is also being bought up and built upon by the acres. By 2015, the area around the convention center will be fully developed, as will the property by the marina. A Spanish hotel group, which the secretary would not name, has also promised to construct a 250-room hotel along with residences and a boutique plaza.
In terms of airlift, since 2011 airlift is up 35 percent in terms of seats. Frontier Airlines will also return to the destination, and Delta is expanding its service.
Fonatur is also planning to invest $60 million this year, and $200 million from 2015-2016 in Playa Espiritu, a new beach development that is supposed to outpace Cancun. The first hotel will open in December, and to follow will be a marina, golf course and more hotels. There is no name yet for the hotel opening in December, but it is a $30 million investment.
“Things are looking good for Mazatlan and Sinaloa,” says Cordoba Celaya. “Sinaloa has always been an agricultural state. Tourism how now become the strongest economic force. It has overtaken agriculture. it is the biggest generator of new employment and investment.”