The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board's Director, Javier Aranda Pedrero, and Promotion & PR Director, Luis Villasenor
The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board's Director, Javier Aranda Pedrero, and Promotion & PR Director, Luis Villasenor

Canadian snowbirds come to Puerto Vallarta “and they tell their friends”

TORONTO — Puerto Vallarta is seeing double-digit growth out of Canada, with air arrivals from this market up 14% in the first half of 2017, says the newly appointed Director of the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board, Javier Aranda Pedrero.

Hotel occupancy meanwhile is strong at 85%. “By the end of the year we’re expecting to grow four to five points over 2016,” said Pedrero.

From the Canadian market Puerto Vallarta benefits not just from vacationers taking one and two week getaways but also long-stay travellers who, much to the tourism board’s delight, tell their friends all about Puerto Vallarta. “Canadians have become promoters of the destination,” says Pedrero. “The Canadian snowbirds come to Puerto Vallarta and stay a while, and then they tell their friends, and bring their friends.”

Sunwing is adding flights to the destination out of Abbotsford and Victoria, he adds. Meanwhile WestJet is up to almost 40 flights a week to the destination, in high season.

Puerto Vallarta is getting ready to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2018 and there will be “celebrations every month,” says Pedrero, adding that “Puerto Vallarta always seems to be having a party. That’s part of the ambience of the destination.”

Newer hotels in Puerto Vallarta include Fiesta Inn and City Express, both geared more to business travellers, says Pedrero. For the leisure market, new offerings include the 55-room boutique-style Hotel Amapa, scheduled to open by the end of this month.

Puerto Vallarta wants travel agents to know that there’s more to the destination than sun and sand. “We don’t want them to think of Puerto Vallarta as a beach destination and that’s it,” says Pedrero. The coastal city is attracting more adventure travellers, and foodies. Puerto Vallarta works hard to cultivate its reputation as a culinary capital of Mexico, drawing big star power (and plenty of Michelin-starred chefs) to its culinary festivals including Vallarta Nayarit Gastronomica, taking place Oct. 28 – Nov. 1, and Festival Gourmet International, now in its 23rd year and a favourite festival for locals and visitors alike each November.

Looking ahead a little further, construction is well underway for the new Cirque du Soleil theme park in Nuevo Vallarta. Puerto Vallarta is also in the midst of renovations to its cruise port.

Pedrero says the tourism board hopes to soon set up a specialist program for travel agents, and in the meantime it’s doing outreach with the travel trade in the form of seminars and trade shows.

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