Los Cabos unveils incentives to woo clients

LOS CABOS, Mexico -- This destination is battling the post-Sept. 11 tourism slump with incentives such as free hotel room nights, sightseeing tours, dinners and sports activities.

The "Star Spangled Savings" promotion includes the majority of Los Cabos' hotels, which are seeing a 20% decrease in occupancy for the winter season -- traditionally mid-December through May -- compared with the same period last year, according to Alfredo Rosas, executive director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board in Santa Monica, Calif.

Los Cabos is battling the tourism downturn with free hotel nights and sports activities, including fishing. "Occupancy stands at approximately 65% for the winter season," said Rosas, who attributed the decrease to the fear of flying that followed the Sept. 11 attacks.

A list of participating hotels is available on the tourism board's Web site, at www.visitcabo.com. The incentives are in effect until Jan. 26.

Los Cabos also is donating a three-night stay for two to a New York or Washington firefighter or police officer for every 20 bookings an agency generates.

The board will present travel certificates to the cities' mayors in the name of the agency. Bookings must be for travel completed by the end of January.

Rosas said the incentives are being promoted via radio and print advertising in an effort to drive business to agencies.

Meanwhile, none of the airlines that announced new service to Los Cabos prior to Sept. 11 abandoned their plans after the attacks, although several rolled back service, he said.

Delta, which launched year-round daily nonstops from Atlanta on Dec. 1, switched to smaller aircraft.

American, which was to fly daily nonstops from Chicago starting Nov. 1 (through April 30), pared the frequency down to four weekly flights.

The only question mark is Continental, which postponed plans for a weekly nonstop from Newark starting Dec. 15 (through April 30) until sometime in February.

Continental offers daily service to Los Cabos from Houston.

According to Rosas, among the major developments on tap for 2002 are:

• Construction will begin in January on a new highway from Los Cabos Airport to the Palmilla section of Cabos, giving easier access to San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas.

• The 375-room, $70 million Hilton Los Cabos Beach and Golf Resort will open in Cabo Real in February.

The hotel will include a "swimming beach" (many of the destination's resort beaches are off-limits to swimmers) and will be adjacent to the El Dorado and Cabo Real golf courses.

• A Tom Weiskopf-designed 18-hole golf course is scheduled to open by mid-spring.

The project is part of the 1,800-acre Cabo del Sol golf and resort development, which will eventually include three golf courses, four hotels and private homes.

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