Fourteen months after gradually reopening its doors to international tourism, Mexico’s desert paradise by the sea and tourist mecca, Los Cabos is approaching pre-pandemic visitation levels.
Positioned at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, Los Cabos fast-tracked its tourism relaunch in June 2020 while other parts of the world were still experiencing the effects of the first and second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tourism represents 80% of the local economy in Los Cabos and supports 90% of the destination’s workforce, so it was critical for the Los Cabos Tourism Board to reignite tourism to return to the region as soon as possible.
In March this year, Los Cabos was recognised as the first travel destination in the world to achieve the ShareCare health security verification, VERIFIED™, operated in partnership with Forbes Travel Guide as a universal standard among hotels and resorts. The status offered a blanket of security for visitors that Los Cabos’ accommodation partners were all on the same page in regards to the health and safety of visitors in the COVID-era.
And now, “things are booming,” Rodrigo Esponda, Managing Director of Los Cabos Tourism Board, tells LATTE.
“We grew our visitor numbers in July by 24% versus July of last year on international travel. 80% of our arrivals are international travellers. We were not expecting growth to be up by nearly 25%,” Esponda remarked.
The United States, unsurprisingly due to its close proximity, is by far the number one market for Los Cabos, followed by Canada and then Australia.
In 2019, the benchmark year for tourism in the destination, around 10,000 Aussies travelled to Los Cabos.
“Hopefully we’re going to get back those Australian numbers. Every one of them… and I’m not kidding,” Esponda says with confidence.
“Everyone really loves Australian travellers. I was at Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas recently and hoteliers were telling me they are very anxious to have their clients from Australia back.
“Australia is definitely very important to Los Cabos.”
“After two years of being unable to travel, there will be huge pent-up demand to head overseas again.”
Esponda, who has been with the tourism organisation for five years after nearly 20 years with his nation’s now-defunct national tourist board, says most Aussies usually spend between 5-7 days in Los Cabos as part of a split itinerary in the USA – commonly a triangular route such as into Los Angeles, out to Las Vegas and down to the Baja California peninsula, before returning to LA.
Los Cabos is a sanctuary of luxury hotels and resorts. At current count, there are 11 Virtuoso Preferred member properties – The Cape, A Thompson Hotel; Chileno Bay, An Auberge Resort; Esperanza, An Auberge Resort; Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas; Grand Velas Los Cabos; Las Ventanas Al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort; Montage Los Cabos; One&Only Palmilla; Solaz, A Luxury Collection Resort; Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal; and Zadún, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve.
An international traveller that comes to Los Cabos typically spends triple the amount (including airfares) in the destination than they would in another part of Mexico. While affluent travellers (those with a household income of over $200,000 annually) spend double that of other segments. Americans are the biggest spenders but when Australians come to Los Cabos “they like to be pampered, they like to stay at beautiful hotels and resorts, get outdoors, try some activities and enjoy the local food.
The tourism chief also explains that Los Cabos also has plenty of options available in the 3-, 4- and 4.5-star property range, and within the business hotel category, to suit all budgets and tastes.
Aside from the year-round stunning climate and spectacular scenery, it is the outdoor activity that lures visitors time and time again to Los Cabos.
“We have a lot of surf, a lot of sport fishing, a lot of water activities – bucket list scuba diving, snorkelling – we have a lot of signature design 18-hole golf courses with ocean views and so much more.
Two new experiences Esponda was keen to promote to Virtuosos last month at Virtuoso Travel Week was diving with sharks in Cabo Pulmo, which involves swimming with a variety of sharks with no cage, and also swimming with hundreds of rays in warm waters of the Sea of Cortez. Esponda says it’s a tamer alternative for those concerned about diving with sharks.
“We’ve also witnessed a rise in the dining scene in Los Cabos due to the freshness of the seafood, all organic, avant garde Mexican-influenced cuisine.
“All of those elements really appeal to the Australian traveller,” Esponda said.
To learn more about Los Cabos’ tourism rebound, see LATTE‘s one-on-one interview with Esponda here.
And for your chance to win four nights in two ultra-luxury hotels in Los Cabos, including return flights (from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne), go here.