The port city of Mazatlan recently received international recognition when it was ranked the No. 1 city in Mexico (No. 5 in the Americas) with the highest median economic and profitability expectation by the Financial Times. Associate editor Deserae del Campo spoke with Frank Cordova, secretary of tourism for the State of Sinaloa, about what this ranking means for Mazatlan.
Deserae del Campo: What does this ranking mean for the city of Mazatlan and for the city’s tourism efforts?
Frank Cordova: For Mazatlan, this ranking means not only that Mazatlan is back as a destination for tourists, but also that it will be a top destination for years to come. As tourism continues to increase, it will provide an opportunity for hotels and other hospitality companies to come and do business in Mazatlan and the state of Sinaloa.
DC: Is this the first time the city has been ranked by the Financial Times, and what do you hope for now that the ranking is out? More business development from local and outside investors or an increase in tourism?
FC: This is the first time Mazatlan has been included in the Financial Times ranking, and the city is extremely honored. The hope is that this ranking will continue to further our commitment to raising awareness about Mazatlan as a premier destination for tourism and business. More tourists bring more opportunity for businesses in the area and vice versa; so the hope is that this ranking attracts investors and visitors from around the world.
DC: If you were speaking to a travel agent about Mazatlan and the Sinaloa region, what would you tell him/her? What should travel agents know about the city?
FC: Mazatlan is one of the Mexican Riviera’s premier resort destinations. Set at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains on a peninsula that extends into the Pacific Ocean, the “Pearl of the Pacific” has it all—culture, beautiful beaches, nightlife, outdoor adventures—something for every type of traveler. Families, couples and friends alike can enjoy the region’s gastronomy, outdoor activities, luxury accommodations and cultural attractions. And, with a number of new air routes to Mazatlan from across the U.S., and the return of four major cruise lines over the next year, it’s easier than ever to visit.
DC: What makes Mazatlan unique?
FC: Mazatlan is unique in that it is a colonial city set right on the beach. Visitors don’t need to sacrifice time in the sun for culture or gastronomy—it’s all in one place. Beyond its world-class beaches, Mazatlan is known as the “Shrimp Capital of the World” and is home to many historic sites and attractions.
DC: When is the best time to travel to Mazatlan?
FC: Anytime is a good time to visit Mazatlan, but there are several events throughout the year, which may be of particular interest to tourists. Mazatlan’s 7-day, multi-event Carnival celebration is considered the third largest in the world and occurs in February or March. Likewise, from October to December, visitors can enjoy an array of events in the city’s Angela Peralta Theater, a beautiful building dating back to 1881. For fishing, winter is the best time to visit, with the highest chance of catching some of the world’s largest marlin and sailfish. And though Mazatlan has perfect beach weather year-round, what better time to kick back on the sand with a locally brewed Pacifico beer than in the hot summer months?
DC: Explain any new projects or infrastructure initiatives taking place in the region that may boost (or assist with) your tourism efforts.
FC: There are two major initiatives in Mazatlan that will boost tourism. First, the government has invested more than $3 million in a new tourism corridor between the Port of Mazatlan and the city’s historic center. Complete with a cobblestone promenade and shops, the 5,900-sq.-ft. corridor will make it easier for cruise visitors to reach the heart of Mazatlan. The government also has invested $1.2 billion in the Mazatlan-Durango Highway, which will open fall of 2013. This road will connect Mazatlan with Durango, Texas, cutting the drive time by around six hours. This will also provide a safer route for travelers, allowing them to bypass rural mountain roads when driving.
DC: Are there plans to increase the airline gateways from the U.S. to Mazatlan?
FC: Mazatlan is in negotiations with several airlines to launch new routes from Seattle, Houston, Denver, Atlanta and Chicago, and by early next year there are expected to be an additional 40 percent more flights into Mazatlan from the U.S. In addition, the city is working with domestic and international airlines to increase the number of seats available on flights to Mazatlan.
DC: Are there new hotels popping up in the region?
FC: Mazatlan is in talks with six national and international hotel chains regarding building and investing in the city. The resorts that are already established, such as El Cid, are also looking to expand capacity. The goal is to double the number of hotel rooms over the next five years.
DC: Why should Mazatlan be the vacation of choice for U.S. or Canadian tourists?
FC: With a temperate climate year-round, Mazatlan is an ideal vacation spot for American and Canadian travelers, no matter when they’d like to visit. There are also so many things to do in and around the city that one trip is not enough to experience everything Mazatlan has to offer. Many visitors travel to Mazatlan again and again, and the city is home to around 8,000 expatriates from the U.S. and Canada.
FC: Mazatlan is absolutely an ideal destination for weddings and honeymoons. There are a number of resorts that offer wedding packages and the Pacific Ocean and Sierra Madre Mountains provide a picturesque backdrop for a day couples will never forget. For honeymooners, there are elegant restaurants, luxury accommodations and pampering spas. It’s a great fit for newlyweds, no matter what the budget.
For more information, visit gomazatlan.com.