Insight Mexico Insight Tourism returning to shipshape in Mazatlan By Gay Nagle Myers / October 20, 2015 Share 1 The Mazatlan Museum, seen here in a rendering, will resemble an oyster with a pearl at its center. Photo Credit: Fernando Romero Enterprises -- In a speech at the recent FCAA Cruise Conference & Trade Show in Cozumel, Enrique de la Madrid Cordero, Mexico’s new secretary of tourism, acknowledged the importance of tourism overall to the entire country, pointing out that tourism represents close to 9% of Mexico's gross domestic product and provides employment to more than 8 million people.Regarding the importance of cruise tourism to Mexico, the secretary pointed out that the destination will welcome 5.7 million cruise visitors this year and 6.1 million in 2016. He stressed the significance of destinations such as Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, which have recuperated after a spate of cruise line pullouts from the two ports in 2011 due to safety and security issues.“We want to work as partners with the cruise industry,” he said. “We do this by constantly asking, 'What are your needs?' and 'how can we innovate new products?’"“We are aware that we are in a world of constant competition,” said de la Madrid Cordero, spelling out several of Mexico’s competitive advantages, including location and source markets, along with “our secret weapon: the Mexican people, a population that likes to treat people well.”In Mazatlan’s case, the destination has made strides in its cruise tourism sector with upgrades at the cruise port that include better lighting, easier access to and from the port, more security patrols and an increase in the number and variety of shore excursions available to cruise passengers.And the ships are coming back: Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America and Princess Cruises are all slated to call during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 cruise seasons. New shore excursions offered by 10 tour companies range from rural Sinaloa excursions and tequila tours to whale-watching, canopy tours, bird-watching, kayaking and excursions to Las Labradas Petroglyphs.There are things happening beyond the port, as well, as Mazatlan heads for the peak season. Mazatlan Tourism is investing $1 million in its Golden Zone, a popular tourist area, with new roads, renovated sidewalks and added signage heading the list of upgrades.“As we continue to welcome an increase number of tourists, we have to continually invest in our infrastructure to ensure the visitor experience stays at the highest quality,” said Frank Cordova, minister of tourism for the state of Sinaloa, where Mazatlan is located. American Airlines is adding weekend flights from Los Angeles to the destination beginning Nov. 7, and new hotels are in the works, including the Westin Hotel Sapphire, which breaks ground in November.Construction of the new Mazatlan Museum is set to get underway in 2016. It was designed by Siete Colores Ideas Interactivas and architect Fernando Romero, who designed the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City and is designing Mexico City’s new airport.The structure’s shape references the destination’s tagline and slogan, “Pearl of the Pacific,” featuring a curved steel body set on an elevated base, resembling an oyster with a pearl at its center.The museum will house an IMAX theater, exhibition and gallery areas, a restaurant, classrooms for workshops and a virtual street that will transport visitors to the annual Carnaval de Mazatlan.For information on events, attractions and restaurants, visit www.gomazatlan.com.