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The tourism industry is buzzing in Los Cabos, Mexico, and that energy could be felt throughout the 12th Annual Los Cabos VIP Summit. From Nov. 12-14, approximately 1,100 meetings and business appointments took place, primarily around the expansive Los Cabos International Convention Center, providing travel professionals the chance to forge new alliances and strategize for the future.
Recent successes and upcoming projects took center stage during the three-day conference. After a welcome speech from Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of Los Cabos Tourism Board, and a brief ribbon cutting ceremony, the event officially commenced.
Representing 70 hotels, 65 partners and 11 countries, several hundred attendees including wholesalers, tour operators and travel agents spent their time at the expo interacting with various informational booths and discussing promising opportunities face to face.
Site inspections occurred throughout the week at recently opened all-inclusives Le Blanc Los Cabos and Hotel Solaz Los Cabos, and the soon-to-be-finished Garza Blanca Los Cabos, among other beautiful beachfront locations.
“In 2017, we had 3 million visitors between air arrivals and cruise visitors,” Esponda said. “Because of that, there has been a huge development in the area.”
Following a strong rebound after Hurricane Odile’s catastrophic landfall in 2014, the region’s trajectory continues to rise. In 2017, Baja California Sur experienced the highest level of economic growth in Mexico at 12.6 percent. Between 2018 and 2021, 17 new hotels are slated to open (or have already) in Los Cabos, including luxury properties from Nobu Hotels and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in 2019; Aman Resorts in 2020; and Park Hyatt and St. Regis Hotels & Resorts in 2021. This ambitious growth will increase the room count by more than 5,000.
Already featuring 15 golf courses, Los Cabos continues to exemplify its position as the golf capital of Latin America with seven additional courses in the works.
To accommodate such massive appeal, Los Cabos International Airport is also expanding its facilities over the next few years through a nearly $50 million renovation effort. Terminals will be enhanced, and more nonstop flights will be added, most notably directly connecting Los Cabos to London and by extension the rest of Europe.
A large part of the increased interest in the destination involves a shift of perceptions.
According to Esponda, a new five-point action plan — consisting of a rapid response network, improved training and protocols, heightened surveillance, an organized hotel security committee and a Mexican marine base — have contributed to a 90 percent decrease in crime since last year.
Seminars covered topics such as crisis communication, wellness tourism and “10 New Experiences in Los Cabos.” This particular campaign reflects the growing trend of experience-based travel that focuses on stimulating, unique and memorable offerings for travelers to enjoy during their stay. Listening to whales sing beneath the waves, retracing the history of silver mines and exploring the region’s farm-to-table movement are just a sampling of the highlighted activities.
“The combination of experiences in Los Cabos is truly special,” Esponda said. “You have the ocean activities, the desert and also the mountains. So those three give us a unique way to show the destination.”
Though Los Cabos is catapulting to the forefront of Mexico tourism, being environmentally conscious is still of the utmost importance for the destination. One example is Cabo Pulmo National Park, which was once severely overfished. However, localized restoration and protection efforts have helped it once again be a vibrant sanctuary of biodiversity. Additionally, spanning from Cabo San Lucas in the west to the East Cape, there are 19 Blue Flag beaches, an eco-label given only when certain stringent environmental, safety and accessibility criteria are met. (For perspective, only 53 beaches possess the distinction across the country.)
Deals were made, and relationships were built, but it wasn’t all business at the VIP summit. Industry members were invited to lively soirees held at Cabo Real Golf Club and Omnia Dayclub Los Cabos, where they could unwind and enjoy delicious food and cocktails and live music.