Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

Javier Aranda Pedrero became general director of Puerto Vallarta's tourism board in April, coming to the role with 25 years in the tourism industry.

As director, Aranda Pedrero is committed to continuing to market Puerto Vallarta and sister destination Riviera Nayarit as a unit: Puerto Vallarta with its city-meets-beach feel, and Riviera Nayarit for its secluded beaches and jungles.

"We have a very strong plan for the next three years together, and we are going to be enforcing all of our best values of the destination," Aranda Pedrero said. "We have the benefit of the Banderas Bay, as well as the small, Magical towns that surround the region, and all the activities that the mountains behind us offer."

He says that the tourism board is focused on attracting new markets of people and will do so by promoting the cultural, musical and sporting events that Puerto Vallarta has to offer to show the destination off as a haven for young travelers, as well, not just the typical older demographic that tends to flock to its beaches and hotels.

Currently the tourism board is in the process of creating this calendar of events that will appeal to the younger markets in hopes to make Vallarta a year-round destination for culture and activities, not just a beach winter escape.

To start, the first world invitational Mountain Bike races to be run in Jalisco this November following the route Ferreria de Tula, Union de Tula, Talpa de Allende and Puerto Vallarta. The race spans more than 240 miles and will run over four days. Also in November, the city will host the Pacific Games, a CrossFit event with more than 500 competitors from across North America.

Occupancy increased last year by 7%, as well. However, Aranda Pedrera said that there are no immediate plans for hotel developments in Puerto Vallarta. The city and beach area is small and already quite developed.

However, he said, there is much development to be expected south of the city along the Costalegre. Two new luxury hotels are going to be developed, about two hours south of the city. "We don't consider them to be Puerto Vallarta hotels, exactly, but we do promote that area as part of the Puerto Vallarta experience," Aranda Pedrera said.

What will be developed in the city center is the cruise ship pier. The government is investing $5 million in creating a new commercial area for cruise passengers, which will include a tequila distillery, an art gallery, a food court, a 400-car parking lot and what investors say will be the biggest aquarium in Latin America. The project is scheduled to be unveiled in the first half of next year.

In terms of infrastructure, the lateral sides of Avenida Francisco Medina Ascencio, the main avenue that connects the airport with downtown, will be repaired, as well.

Both Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit are eagerly anticipating the debut of the Cirque du Soleil theme park that is going to open in conjunction with Vidanta Resorts and Destinations. The project, once completed, is expected to double the amount of tourists that Puerto Vallarta sees annually.

Aranda Pedrera said he is excited that this new development will increase the fame of the destination and give travelers another option to visit, but in terms of practicality at how the destination is going to equip itself to handle that dramatic increase in visitors, the details won't be ironed out until September.

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