During the recent Cruise Shipping Miami, which took place in Miami Beach last month, Recommend’s editor-in-chief had the opportunity to sit down with the folks from the Port of Acapulco and the Acapulco Destination Marketing Office to learn what’s new with the destination and to learn more about the Sun Triangle Tourism Initiative, which was launched last year by the Governor of the State of Guerrero to promote the State’s top tourist destinations—Acapulco, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and Taxco—on an international level.
Paloma Villaverde de Rico: Why are you here promoting Acapulco? What are you trying to the tell travel agents and the industry about Acapulco, when right now travelers are worried about the destination?
Octavio Gonzalez from the Port of Acapulco: I think the most important thing to do is explain what we are doing in Acapulco—what are the kinds of investments that are taking place and what is happening in terms of tourism right now. That is the best way to promote a destination like Acapulco, considering that it is the flagship destination for Mexico.
A lot of things are happening, such as a $200 million investment in the city that includes a new tunnel to connect the main city to a brand-new area called the Diamond District; improvements to walkways, road and street surfaces, and drainage. The city is also changing streetlights and storing electricity underground and widening the pedestrian walkways, so a lot of investment and development is taking place in Acapulco with most of it taking place in the port area, where the cruise passengers can take advantage of the renovated walkways and improvements.
PVR: Do many travelers arriving to Acapulco via cruise ships normally stay pre- or post-cruise?
OG: No, that is not happening in Acapulco. The principal market for the cruise ships arriving to Acapulco is normally from the Caribbean to Alaska itineraries and some itineraries departing from San Diego. Normally, the cruise ships stay for about 10 hours and travelers visit the city and the beaches; go horseback riding; canoeing and snorkeling. Some of the shore excursions also take them to the Diamond District area for day trips to the beach.
PVR: Can you tell us which are the new hotels opening up?
OG: There is a new hotel that is going to open in mid-2014 at a huge complex in Acapulco named Mundo Imperial. The complex also has a 4,000-capacity theater for concerts and plays, and a convention center. Other hotels located in the bay area include Hotel Encanto, which re-opened in February and is our luxury hotel, along with Hotel Boca Chica [a Grupo Habita hotel], which is a very recognized hotel from the 1950s and early 1960s.
PVR: What are some of the safety security programs going on throughout Acapulco?
OG: We have in place a security program being coordinated by the federal government, and they are involving federal forces with state and local forces, so they are all working together. I live here and I can tell you that I don’t feel unsafe. We have results compared with 2011 that show crime rates went down by more than 50 percent…and last December the weekend holidays were the best season for us in the last five years.
Ruben Reyes, the General Director of the Acapulco Destination Marketing Office: In July, the occupancy rate was the best in the month from the last seven years. From then until November, we experienced the best occupancy in the last four years. The exceptional month was in December when we saw the best occupancy rate in the last 10 years.
PVR: When is the best time to visit Acapulco?
OG: Any time. I am originally from Mexico City and have lived in Acapulco for the last 10 years and I’m impressed by the city’s great weather. But of course, talking about cruise ships, the season is between September to December, up to May and June. The temperature on average is 86 degrees. The main tourism season in Acapulco is in December, Holy Week, and a lot of weekends. And being so close to Mexico City by car, which is only three hours, it’s very easy for people to reach Acapulco.
PVR: What is it about Acapulco that makes it unique?
OG: From my point of view, everything we spoke about. I am Mexican and I love my country, and I can assure you that there is not another Mexican destination on the Pacific coast that is undergoing these types of projects and investments. All of these are projects for the future. Talking specifically about the cruise industry, I think they would be very happy because what they want to have is a renovated destination and we are doing that.
PVR: What is the Sun Triangle Tourism Initiative?
RR: Its focus is to market Acapulco, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, and Taxco, a historical and exceptional place that is small and less-known and only two hours from Mexico City. We are trying to have events at Taxco to make the people stay for one night or two; and there are 10 to 15 four-star hotels there.
PVR: So you are trying to convince travelers to visit all three destinations at one time on their vacation?
RR: It can be done. Actually, there are some European and South Americans who make these routes for a 7-day trip. What they do is come from Argentina or Spain, stop in Mexico City and travel by land to Taxco and then to Acapulco for two or three days. If you want to go to Ixtapa, you have to spend another four hours in the car; from Taxco to Acapulco it’s a 3-hour car drive.
You can do Ixtapa, Acapulco and Taxco; or Taxco, Acapulco, and Ixtapa. Travelers will know the colonial jewel that is Taxco, which is a beautiful and impressive colonial city. Then you have Acapulco, the prettiest city port on the Pacific Coast with state-of-the-art nightlife, and finally Ixtapa, which is a quiet destination perfect for family and couples.
For more on Acapulco, visit rememberacapulco.com.