Ask the principals at Apple Vacations and Funjet Vacations to name Mexico’s top-selling vacation spots and the destinations that roll off their tongues are: Cancun/Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta-Riviera Nayarit and Los Cabos.
Cancun & Riviera Maya
“Cancun and Riviera Maya are always top destinations for all types of travelers,” says Sara Keough, v.p., travel agency strategy at The Mark Travel Corporation. “With a variety of beaches, activities, spas, entertainment and golf, as well as proximity to Tulum, these two destinations can keep you as busy or as relaxed as you desire.”
“We’re also seeing a lot of buzz about Costa Mujeres, Playa Mujeres and Isla Mujeres just north of Cancun,” adds Apple Vacations’ president Tim Mullen. “There is already a Secrets Resort & Spa, and a Dreams Resort & Spa there. RIU Dunamar will open in December and more resorts, like Palladium, are soon to follow in this developing area.”
At the opening ceremonies during the recent Cancun Travel Mart, Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez, the governor of the state of Quintana Roo, said that “more than nine million international tourists visited Quintana Roo”—home to Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen—“between October 2016 and July 2017.” And, he went on to say, more than one-third of those tourists visited Cancun.
Los Cabos has also seen a surge in tourist arrivals. “As a tourist destination, Los Cabos is experiencing remarkable growth, doubling the pace of Mexico as a whole at 20 percent,” says Rodrigo Esponda, managing director, Los Cabos Tourism Board. “Hotel occupancy in 2017 has been extraordinary. We have had a 6 percent increase over last year. Additionally, the industry in Los Cabos is split strategically to provide visitors with hotel and residential options: one-third all-inclusive, one-third timeshare, and one-third EP plan.”
Los Cabos will be adding approximately 4,700 new rooms between this year and 2021, including Nobu, Hard Rock, Montage, Ritz-Carlton Reserve (the first Reserve sub-brand in Mexico will open in Los Cabos and be one of four in the world), Four Seasons, RIU and St. Regis. Additionally, the airport is also undergoing a renovation and launching a new terminal in 2018, and in terms of security, the public and private sector have invested more than $47 million in 2017 “launching,” says Esponda, “a new five-point action plan to ensure a secure travel environment to all travelers and the community.
“Unlike other destinations, Los Cabos’ constant growth is due in part to our loyal visitors,” says Esponda. “Seven out of 10 visitors are repeat tourists who have been coming to the destination for several years and in many cases, for generations.”
Puerto Vallarta & Riviera Nayarit
Puerto Vallarta, too, has seen an increase in tourist arrivals, with the tourism board reporting a more than 6 percent increase in hotel occupancy over the first six months of 2017. That time period also reported an occupancy rate of close to 90 percent.
And Riviera Nayarit’s numbers are also seeing double-digit growth, with the “July barometer showing that an average of 34 percent of travelers are coming from the U.S. compared to 25 percent indicated on the 2016 closing barometer,” says Marc Murphy, managing director for Riviera Nayarit Convention & Visitors Bureau. The destination, which, Mullen says, “has also become increasingly popular” for Apple Vacations, and which has grown from five miles of resort expansion north of Puerto Vallarta International Airport to 192 miles of “spectacular beaches in only 10 years,” says Murphy, is seeing new developments with Krystal Grand and Grand Sirenis Matlali Beach Development set to open by the end of the year. “For 2018 and into 2019,” says Murphy, “we have the One&Only and Rosewood Mandarina, Fairmont Costa Canuva scheduled to open and the expansion of Marival Group and Iberostar as well.”
Keough notes that one of the reasons that Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit are so popular is because “you get two destinations in one. Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican beach resort situated on Banderas Bay, bordering Riviera Nayarit’s 200-mile stretch of authentic fishing villages along the Pacific Coast—exactly how Mexico was meant to be experienced.”
Who to Book
So who’s visiting Mexico? According to Mullen, travel agents should be focusing on destination wedding bookings, because, he says, “Mexico is by far our strongest product. Likewise, Millennials are becoming increasingly prevalent. They’re significantly more likely to book excursions versus Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, which presents agents with an opportunity to earn additional revenue.” He goes on to mention that “California sales have been rising dramatically for us in the last two years. New airlift and an increased commitment to travel agents in the Bay Area and in southern California is bearing great fruit with us.”
Destinations to Keep an Eye On
“Mazatlan has seen an increase in popularity,” says Mark Travel’s Keough, “and is as charming as ever. Mazatlan is filled with cobblestone, history-filled streets, surfer-heaven beaches and seafood so fresh it can convert any turf lover.” Starting in December, Funjet will be offering new routes to Mazatlan from Houston and Chicago with United Airlines.
Apple Vacations’ Mullen points to Huatulco as an on-the-rise destination. “It was our highest-rated destination in 2017, and has become a rising star in the eco-tourism arena.”
Apple Vacations: applevacations.com
Cancun Tourism Board: cancun.travel/en
Funjet Vacations: funjet.com
Los Cabos Tourism Board: visitloscabos.travel
Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board: visitpuertovallarta.com
Riviera Maya Tourism Board: rivieramaya.com/en
Riviera Nayarit Convention & Visitors Bureau: rivieranayarit.com