Gay Nagle Myers is in Puerto Vallarta for Tianguis Turistico, Mexico's annual tourism fair. Her first dispatch follows.
The arrival of Pope Benedict XVI was the topic of talk and TV coverage in Mexico over the weekend.
Pictures of the religious leader were on display at the airport in Puerto Vallarta on Saturday.
“We’re very happy he is here,” said Adrian Ibarra, my cab driver.
Replicas of the large gold-and-white charro hat that was presented to the pope are hot sellers, Ibarra said.
Ibarra also was happy that 2,000-plus tourism delegates were descending in Puerto Vallarta. Tianguis Turistico, Mexico’s annual travel tourism fair, kicked off Monday morning. It is being held outside of Acapulco for the first time in 36 years.
“We have much here for tourists. You will see,” he told me.
I did see some of that on the 30-minute drive to Nuevo Vallarata in Nayarit, a bit north of Puerto Vallarta.
Villa La Estancia, where I’m staying, is part of a large enclave of more than 20 high-end properties along the Bay of Banderas. Brand-name hotels along the bay include Riu, Occidental and Bahia.
“This is a new region. There wasn’t much here five years ago,” Ibarra said.
I walked the beach along the Pacific on Saturday afternoon, and ran into plenty of tourists and guests from the U.S. and Canada, along with locals.
“This is a great place,” a visitor from Michigan told me on his first visit. “We’ll be back.”
That was exactly what Mexican tourism officials want to hear.
Follow Gay Nagle on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.