…with Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit recouping 100,000 of 400,000 air seats lost during the recession that began in 2008, said Richard Zarkin, public relations director for the Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau. “In 2009 the swine flu came, along with safety perceptions about Mexico, which didn’t help at all,” he said.
The tide, however, is now turning. “The Vallarta Nayarit campaign is working very well for both destinations,” Zarkin said. “Business, especially from Canada and the U.S. West Coast and Midwest, was really strong” during the first half of this year.
Specifically, business from California, Oregon, Washington, and the Denver and Chicago areas is on the rise, said Zarkin. In Canada high-performing destinations included the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario. “Calgary has grown very much along with Edmonton,” he said.
This winter, Alaska Airlines will add more lift from Portland, and Delta from Seattle and New York’s JFK. “We’re also seeing more flights and/or larger aircraft out of Phoenix, Dallas and Houston,” Zarkin said.
Mexican travelers serve as the No. 1 market to Vallarta Nayarit, followed by the U.S., which represents 20 percent of the market, and Canada, which represents 17 percent.
Business from the UK, meanwhile, which represents three percent of the market to the region, is also continuing to grow. The UK’s TUI Travel PLC this year began offering charters on Thomson Airways out of Manchester and London-Gatwick.
Business is also on the rise from the Latin American countries of Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, said Zarkin. “We’ve not only diversified our market in Europe with the UK but we started to do public relations in South America,” said Zarkin.
On the hotel front, the 450-room Iberostar Playa Mita opened late last year in Litibu on the northern section of Banderas Bay. The RIU Jalisco reopened late last year following a $12 million in a renovation, the Palladium became a Grand Palladium and the Allegro the Occidental Grand, Zarkin said.
In other developments, Mexico’s National Trust for Tourism Promotion (Fonatur), which is responsible for the development of Cancun, Los Cabos, Huatulco and Litibu, is in the midst of creating Costacapomo, a tourism project located in Nayarit’s Compostela, said Zarkin. The development will include more than 3,000 hotel rooms, a Greg Norman-designed 18-hole golf course and two beach clubs.
The development goes hand in hand with a new Jala-Compostela-Las Varas-Bahía de Banderas highway whose construction be finished by the of 2015, as well as the transformation of the Tepic airport into an international one.
PHOTO: The 450-room Iberostar Playa Mita opened late last year in Litibu on the northern section of the Bay of Banderas. (Courtesy of Iberostar)