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Los Cabos is sitting pretty. Last year, the destination enjoyed 3.3% year-over-year growth in international arrivals, and this year has started off well with January experiencing 9% year-over-year growth on international arrivals.
On a recent trip to Los Angeles, Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of Los Cabos Tourism Board, told us of some of the reasons behind Los Cabos’ success in attracting more visitors, and why he’s optimistic about travel to the destination in 2020.
Has airlift to Los Cabos increased?There is some new lift coming. We had our first nonstop flight from London in November. And from the U.S. — which makes up 80% of our international arrivals — we had some new flights from Austin, Texas. Alaska Airlines just started the third daily nonstop from Los Angeles, and they also opened San Jose, Calif. The airline didn’t think that flight would be so strong since it flies out of San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif., but the route is going super well.
We have some secondary markets that are new, too, such as Nashville, Tenn.; Cleveland, Ohio; and Pittsburgh; along with extended frequencies in Milwaukee and St. Louis. We also have two new flights from Canada, and we’re trying to develop more airlift from New York via a new airline called Eastern Air. Delta Air Lines had pulled out of John F. Kennedy International Airport because of an equipment issue, and no airline has been flying that route since.
This year, we’re expecting to grow 7-8% on international arrivals.
How are you building on the success of the “10 New Experiences” program?As part of our team in Los Cabos, there will be a new position starting in March that is solely going to work on in-destination product development. We have different projects we are working on besides the 10 New Experiences, including several new festivals in San Jose; a few gastronomic events, including a new themed day in San Jose del Cabo called Tasty Tuesdays; a couple of restaurant weeks; and a wine festival.
We are also working on a birdwatching tour. There are trails in our mountain range with some endemic species in the region. We aim to have experiences that are at the same level of our hotels.
Are niche tours part of a broader strategy?What we’re trying to do is to develop new markets. Birdwatching is something that a lot of people travel to do because they’re so passionate about it. The new Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas is very close to where the trails start, so that product will be fantastic for that property. With the recent new hotel openings, there have been some people who always stayed at one property who now want to try another property, so the business is getting fragmented. We need to create enough market for everyone to keep growing.
How can travel advisors help with this?We have two training programs for advisors, and we work with consortia to educate agents on the differences in our destination. But we need to do a better job. Advisors need to qualify clients carefully. If a client says they want to try the Four Seasons, but are looking to explore the galleries of San Jose del Cabo, the Four Seasons is probably not the right choice since it’s in a remote area, 50 minutes out.
What’s a good example of a difference in hotel product that agents should know?If a client stays at Nobu Hotel Los Cabos, agents should know that it faces the Pacific Ocean and has a desert setting. It would be totally different than a client staying in the other side of Los Cabos at Four Seasons, where the mountain range is very close, and it’s more secluded.
What should agents need to know about the local beaches?The beaches of the Sea of Cortez are super clear, with powder sand and no rocks. They are all swimmable, while the beach at Nobu isn’t swimmable. A few good hotels with swimmable beach access are Montage Los Cabos, One&Only Palmilla and Four Seasons. The Cape, A Thompson Hotel, has a swimmable beach that is famous for surfers.
How has the destination’s private trust been doing?We have 65 of our 80 hotels as part of our private trust of 80 members. It’s a voluntary contribution that we use to get new flights and produce campaigns and social media. The rest of the members are local tourism suppliers and DMCs, and some local restaurants are participating.
We offer the office in Los Angeles for members to hold meetings, and they are using it. Members can also exhibit at IMEX at no cost, and attend World Travel Market. We need to offer that be very competitive. Other countries are doing incredible things — we cannot get behind.
The DetailsLos Cabos Tourism Boardwww.visitloscabos.travel
10 New Experienceswww.loscabosexperiences.com