Los Cabos has become, without a doubt, one
of the highest-profile vacation destinations in Mexico. With more
visitors arriving every year, an ever-expanding hotel inventory and
construction of an additional airport terminal beginning in
November, Los Cabos is definitely in growth mode.
So how does a major
destination like Los Cabos plan for and deal with increased
development? Alberto Coppola, president of the Los Cabos Tourism
Board, spoke with Travel Weekly about the region's impressive
growth, plans for the future and response to this year's hurricane
Weekly: The tourism board has commissioned a traffic
circulation study to determine current traffic patterns and deal
with increased visitors. What do you expect to do with the
Coppola: Our focus in funding this study
and implementing the recommended solutions is to ensure that
visitors to Los Cabos [are] able to easily transit popular areas of
Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo in a stress-free traffic
environment. It is important for us to maintain the famed aspect of
tranquility that Los Cabos has enjoyed and that attracts so many
vacationers to our home. Ensuring a smooth flow of traffic is an
essential consideration for our continued success.
TW:Is there a cap that you envision
for the destination, in terms of maximum number of hotel
Coppola: The Development Planning
Directive, for the urban development of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo
San Lucas, has issued the following development
Year 2010: 15,000
Year 2018: 25,000
underline the destination's commitment that Los Cabos will benefit
from the protection of controlled growth and retain our world-class
status as a haven of tranquility.
TW:How did visitor numbers grow in
2006? What do you expect for 2007?
Coppola: Annual hotel occupancy averaged
70% in 2006, representing a gain of 4% despite an increase in the
number of hotel rooms present throughout the destination from 9,998
in 2005 to 10,982 in 2006. Additionally, Los Cabos welcomed 1.35
million airline passengers at San Jose del Cabo International
Airport in 2006, compared with 1.23 million in 2005 -- a 10% growth
rate, which is phenomenal in today's highly competitive market. And
the numbers are looking equally as impressive this year. In August
2007, we welcomed 21% more airline passengers to Los Cabos than in
TW:As Los Cabos grows, how will it
maintain its current image and reputation?
Coppola: We value and vow to preserve the
natural gifts that propelled Los Cabos into the spotlight years
ago. This emphasis on controlled growth and preservation is one of
the most appealing aspects of the destination for visitors. Our
emphasis is focused on providing the highest levels of service and
maintaining a pedigree of the best hotel experiences the world can
TW:Is the profile of the typical
visitor expanding to include a wider demographic?
Coppola: Los Cabos is experiencing a
tremendous growth in destination weddings, bachelor and
bachelorette parties, multi-generational family travel for reunions
or annual family getaways, baby-moons for prebirth relaxation,
culinary explorations and, of course, our growing meetings and
incentive travel markets.
TW:Golf is an important part of Los
Cabos' identity. Have you measured the economic impact of golf on
Coppola: Golf enthusiasts make a
significant contribution to Los Cabos, not only because they
patronize our championship golf courses, luxury hotels, sumptuous
dining venues and opulent spas but because many have grown so fond
of the destination that they often purchase luxury vacation
ownership properties or homes to "own" a piece of the Los Cabos
TW:Are there any challenges that Los
Cabos must address to secure its success?
Coppola: Our biggest challenge will be to
maintain the exclusive appeal of Los Cabos despite our growth in
number of tourists. Our resorts are already doing this by "raising
the bar" on standards and offering some of the finest hotel
amenities and services found anywhere on Earth. Also, to ensure the
ease of travel to and from the destination, we have strategies to
further develop the San Jose del Cabo Airport. Planned upgrades
include parallel runways for more rapid departures and arrivals as
well as facility enhancements, including the construction of a new
terminal building to ensure visitors' comfort, convenience and
safety in keeping with the destination's upscale appeal.
is Los Cabos taking advantage of its strengths to grow
Coppola: The destination's varied landscape
spans the desert, ocean and mountains affording travelers an array
of opportunities for exploration and relaxation. Los Cabos matches
the rich culture of Mexico with warm service and a vast knowledge
of the wants [and] needs of its consumer, to deliver the highest
levels of professionalism in hospitality.
convenience of Los Cabos is a big draw for North Americans, with
short flights and enhanced accessibility. A growing number of
gateways have opened travel opportunities from various regions of
the U.S. Increased airlift, paired with fantastic weather patterns,
make travel to Los Cabos viable year-round.
TW:What do you think Los Cabos will
look like, and who do you think will be visiting, in five or 10
Coppola: It may sound cliched, but I
envision Los Cabos to be not only bigger but better in the next
five to 10 years. I think that the real estate trend will continue
to be very strong and foresee more home buyers attracted to and
investing in Los Cabos as the locale for their primary and/or
vacation residence. I also believe that the surrounding areas
around Los Cabos will begin to be of great interest to tourists as
our appeal broadens.
The consumer we
will continue to attract will be, for the most part, a well-heeled,
well-traveled consumer who is satisfied with only the very best.
Our prestigious [resort] properties will be joined by new upscale
properties that are recognized for their excellence.
contact reporter Mark Chesnut, send e-mail [email protected].