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A hurricane is never good news for any destination. But in the case of Los Cabos, which was struck by Hurricane Odile in mid-September, the recovery has been especially swift, and industry players are predicting a strong winter season, according to Eduardo Segura, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board.
“The rapid reaction of the authorities was amazing,” Segura says. “Fortunately, the storm didn’t come with much water and didn’t destroy the principal roads, and that’s why we got support immediately.”
Segura also praises the efforts made by the private sector to get the destination back to normal as quickly as possible. By the end of December, he expects 10,000 of the area’s 14,000 hotel rooms will be open. Additionally, he notes that hotel reopenings have been complemented by a return in the number of flights to the destination.
“When American Airlines came back, they scheduled six flights on the first day,” Segura says. “Then an extra flight was put in because every seat was full.”
After speaking with the director of the airport, Segura believes that 70 percent of the normal airlift will have returned by the end of the month, and 80 to 85 percent of the hotel-room inventory will be open by the end of the year. There have also been announcements about new flights coming to Los Cabos soon, according to Segura. Delta Air Lines intends to add flights from Seattle, and Alaska Airlines will offer airlift out of Portland, Ore.
“I believe that in the first quarter of the coming year, all of the [hotel] inventory will be available, as well as all of the flights,” Segura says.
No major events were canceled due to the hurricane, another sign of the area’s resilience. Segura notes that a comedy festival, set to occur a week after the storm, was rescheduled for February. Events such as sportfishing tournaments and the Los Cabos International Film Festival have continued as scheduled.
To keep travel agents and the general public informed about the progress, Segura says the tourism board quickly decided to invest $5 million in promotion and action. A portion of the investment went specifically toward co-ops with the board’s major partners.
In addition to educational webinars to inform travel agents about the situation, another component of the promotional effort is the #Unstoppable campaign, which promotes use of the hashtag to share positive developments.
“It’s been used in every social media [platform]from the destination to demonstrate how Los Cabos is recovering,” Segura explains. “We’ve been using this hashtag with the first airlift arrivals and all reopenings of hotels, restaurants and activities, showing everybody that we’re not going to stop.”
Segura acknowledges that it’s a big task to make sure people have a realistic view of the situation in Los Cabos.
“There are still a lot of doubts about the reality in Los Cabos, and that’s why I’m here,” he says. “That’s also why we’re receiving travel agents in Los Cabos and showing them that what we’re saying is true. We just had a few travel agents here. They couldn’t believe it; they thought it was going to be devastated. They were saying that in some areas, you wouldn’t even think there’d been a storm.”
In some cases, the post-storm hotels will actually be better than what existed before, according to Segura.
“Hotels that were planning a renovation are taking the opportunity that they’re already closed to refurbish all of the hotel,” he says. “And the other category is the very high-end hotels, which will not reopen until they are 100 percent or better.”