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When Hurricane Odile struck Los Cabos in September 2014, any mention of tourism revolved around smaller numbers: fewer open hotel rooms, fewer flights into the destination and fewer visitors arriving. But, as Los Cabos continues to recover and make way for new hotels and flights, the conversation has quickly turned to the topic of growth with record-breaking numbers — if all goes as planned.
Perhaps no one knows more about recovery in Los Cabos than Ruben Reachi, who, in July, took on the role of managing director for Los Cabos Tourism Board. Reachi previously served as secretary of tourism for the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, which means he already had good knowledge of the region, but has since paid particular attention to increasing tourism in Los Cabos.
“I’m happy because now I can focus just on Los Cabos, which is our main tourism destination [in the state],” he said.
Reachi says he is using his new role to focus on the travel trade. With this, he hopes to increase the number of visitors to Los Cabos every year.
Things are looking good so far. Although Odile caused 2014’s visitor numbers to be unusually low, nearly 1.7 million visitors arrived in Los Cabos in 2013, and by the end of this year, Reachi hopes to increase that number to 1.8 million.
“It’s a great year because we will break the record that we used to have,” he said.
And Reachi predicts that this growth will continue in the coming years.
“I think we can get around 1.9 [million visitors in 2016],” he said. “And I think in one or two years, we can get to 2 million.”
Although Reachi acknowledges the devastation Hurricane Odile left in Los Cabos — the hurricane caused an estimated $1 billion in losses — he believes the destination has recovered well, and is in the process of reemerging as a tourism hot spot.
“It was a tragedy, but it was an opportunity to renew,” Reachi said. “I think it’s a real success. We have the capacity to recover very quickly. At this point, we have a little more than 80 percent of the total hotel rooms ready, but they’re better than before, because we had the opportunity to not only renew, but also to improve.”
What’s more, the destination is growing its hotel offerings in a big way. The current 14,000-room hotel inventory is set to expand by nearly 4,000 guestrooms in the near future. Some new properties in the works are JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa, Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos and Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa, all of which will open this fall.
Future openings include Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Park Hyatt Los Cabos, Le Blanc Spa Resort, Auberge’s VieVage and Montage Los Cabos, which will be the brand’s first property outside the United States.
Another strategy for strengthening the allure of Los Cabos is to emphasize the destination’s growing golf scene.
“We want to show that we are the golf mecca for all of Latin America,” Reachi said. “We have two new golf courses that opened in December of last year. The first one is El Cardonal, the first Tiger Woods-designed course in the world. And we have Quivira Golf Club, a new Jack Nicklaus course.”
In addition, Los Cabos already has one Greg Norman-designed golf course, but two more are under construction and are set to open within the next two years.
To accommodate the predicted increase in visitors to Los Cabos, more flights from the eastern U.S. are being added. However, Reachi is confident about the potential for continued growth from the West Coast, as well.
“I want to work hard in our traditional markets and to tap more travelers from California, Washington state and Arizona,” he said.
To do this, the tourism board is working with travel agencies and investing in social media and traditional media to spread the word about the region.