Mazatlan Malecon // © 2015 Mazatlan Hotel Association
Feature image (above): Mazatlan expects a bump in tourism arrivals thanks to a new ad campaign. // © 2015 Shutterstock
With increased arrivals, new investment in promotion and infrastructure and new hotels in the works, Mazatlan is in growth mode. That’s the word from Carlos Berdegue, president of the Mazatlan Hotel Association.
“We have 40 percent more airline seats this winter compared to last winter,” Berdegue said. “We have 20 percent more groups and convention business, and the destination is at about 70 to 72 percent occupancy. We were running at just 58 percent two years ago.”
This boost is the fruit of ongoing efforts, Berdegue says.
“We are working very hard to relaunch the image of Mazatlan,” he said. “We’ve been spending a lot of money improving the destination.”
And there is more to come. In October, tourism officials announced plans to invest around $1 million to improve the Golden Zone, the beachfront neighborhood home to the largest number of resort-style hotels in the area. New roads, sidewalks and signage aim to make the zone friendlier and more attractive to both pedestrians and motorists. In addition, a new roadway will allow visitors to travel directly from the airport to the Golden Zone.
“In terms of infrastructure, there are two huge investments,” Berdegue said. “One is in the Golden Zone area. The second phase is the restoration of the old part of town. They are painting houses and creating a walkway from the cruise port.”
In addition, Berdegue says the destination is expecting a big bump in publicity — and tourism arrivals — from a new television advertising campaign that will run from late 2015 into 2016.
“The Mexico Tourism Board is going to promote Mexico with three ads: for Cancun, Riviera Maya and Mazatlan,” Berdegue said. “So, for the first time, Mazatlan is going to have an ad from the board that will run in the U.S. and Canada.”
This new promotional effort is in addition to the city’s spending on tourism promotion, which increased from $11.2 million in 2014 to $11.8 million in 2015.
New hotels are also part of the city’s rebirth. InterContinental Hotels Group is tripling its number of properties in Mazatlan in the coming months, with the debut of two new hotels in late 2016: the 150-room Holiday Inn Resort Mazatlan, located in the Golden Zone, and the 124-room Holiday Inn Express Mazatlan Marina, which will be part of a mixed-use development with a shopping center, apartments and restaurants, located about 5 miles from the marina.
Infrastructure improvements are even opening up new vacation options for visitors, according to Leticia Osuna, operations manager at Pronatours, a local tour operator. Osuna, who has witnessed growing numbers of visitors in recent years, says the new highway linking Mazatlan with the city of Durango has reduced travel time from six hours to less than three — providing the opportunity for easy day trips to the historic city.
Additionally, the destination’s long-standing appeal is getting stronger with the recent improvements, Osuna says.
“We have visitors of all ages in Mazatlan,” she said. “Once they’re here, they usually feel like it’s a home away from home. That’s why we have so many repeat visitors.”