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With increased visitor numbers, new attractions and a spruced-up hotel scene, there is a lot to be excited about in Puerto Vallarta. And that enthusiasm was readily visible during Gala Puerto Vallarta-Riviera Nayarit, the annual tourism conference that celebrated its 25th anniversary in February at the Puerto Vallarta International Convention Center.
This year’s event reported a 32 percent jump in attendance compared to 2018, including 89 wholesalers, representatives from 96 local hotels and 57 journalists from national and international media outlets. The event included two days of business meetings, with some 1,326 appointments confirmed before the event started.
We have highlighted some of the top news from the event.
Western U.S. Is No. 1 Source Market and Other StatsThe Western United States is home to the three largest source markets for international visitors, according to statistics reported from last year. The cities of Los Angeles, Dallas and Seattle sent more visitors to Puerto Vallarta than any other international destination. Visitors from the U.S. account for the largest percentage of international arrivals at 50.8 percent, followed by Canada at 15.6 percent and Europe at 1.5 percent.
Occupancy rates in Puerto Vallarta hotels held steady for 2018, with a 72 percent average, even as hotel inventory increased by nearly 3,000 rooms. Hotels including Park Royal Puerto Vallarta, for example, added rooms through new construction, while Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort expanded its inventory by debuting a new section called The Hacienda at Hilton Puerto Vallarta.
Cruise NewsCruise traffic into Puerto Vallarta is expected to grow this year, with 172 cruises slated to call in 2019, up from 117 in 2018. Last year, 311,445 cruise passengers visited Puerto Vallarta.
The first phase of Puerto Magico, a revamped cruise port facility, debuted in October 2018 with a terminal area featuring retail shops and new boarding and waiting areas. The first terminal will be fully complete by summer 2019, with a variety of new shops and restaurants, and an ambiance infused with hacienda style that represents the state of Jalisco. Billed as the first port of its class that’s open to the general public as well as cruise passengers, the facility aims to host weekly entertainment events.
New Hotel Puerto Vallarta’s hoteliers are mostly focused on upgrading existing properties. One of the few new names on the scene this year is Hotel Amapa, which is slated to open in July. The 55-room, adults-only property is located in the Romantic Zone. A member of the Design Hotels consortium, Hotel Amapa will feature Mexican modern and minimalist style throughout. Wellness will be a major focus for the hotel, with a facility that offers meditation, reflexology and massage treatments.
Tour UpdatesPuerto Vallarta has welcomed a variety of new tours and attractions in recent months, including an All-Terrain Safari from Vallarta Adventures, a new hanging bridge at Canopy River and a new food tour of the Versalles neighborhood by Vallarta Food Tours.
In addition, Vallarta Adventures has revamped its popular Ritmos de la Noche/Rhythms of the Night, an evening excursion that includes an open-air dinner on Las Caletas beach. The new dinner show, called “Savia: The Legend of the Five Suns,” is an impressively imaginative spectacle, along the lines of Cirque du Soleil, with a large cast of talented dancers, acrobats and singers.
Increased AirliftPuerto Vallarta International Airport is welcoming an array of new flights this year. Among them is a new seasonal service linking the city with Las Vegas, announced in January by Sun Country Airlines.
Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris, meanwhile, plans to launch twice-weekly service to Phoenix on June 16.
And in Canada, Swoop — the ultra-low-cost airline that’s part of the WestJet Group portfolio — launched new nonstop flights to Puerto Vallarta in January from Hamilton, Ontario (near Toronto), and from Abbotsford, British Columbia (near Vancouver).
In 2020, Puerto Vallarta International Airport will begin work on what’s described as its largest-ever expansion, with a new terminal planned that will nearly double current capacity. The new facility will measure more than 115,000 square feet and add 14 new gates. The airport reported a 2.2 percent increase in passengers for 2018 compared to the previous year, with a total of more than 3.1 million travelers. The project, to be completed by 2024, is overseen by Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico, the Guadalajara-based company that operates the airport.