With winter fast approaching, Canadians will soon be dreaming of escaping to sun-soaked destinations. At the top of their bucket list should be Baja California Sur and the beautiful city of Loreto, home to turquoise waters and an abundance of outdoor adventures. In this week’s Take Five, we chat with Jesús Ordóñez, Managing Director of Visit Baja California Sur, who highlights the top reasons to visit the destination this winter and how it’s working to keep Canadians and all visitors safe.
- For travel agents who aren’t too familiar with Baja California Sur, can you tell us a little about it?
What Canadians think of as ‘Baja’ is actually the entire peninsula that runs from the U.S./Mexican border in San Diego down to the southernmost point known as Los Cabos. In between are two states. The northern part is called Baja California, although its frequently referred to as Baja California Norte. The southern half of the peninsula is Baja California Sur (sur means south).
To get to Baja California Sur (BCS), Canadians can fly direct on WestJet’s service from Calgary to the coastal city of Loreto. Loreto is a charming, historic and breathtakingly beautiful little city on the east coast of Baja California Sur. It sits along the Gulf of California, a body of water so rich in diverse marine life that Jacques Cousteau referred to it as “the world’s aquarium.” With warm, crystal clear, turquoise water and soft sand beaches, Loreto and the Gulf in general are perfect for relaxing beach vacations.
But there is so much more to Loreto and BCS than that. It is an outdoor adventurer’s dream for kayaking, diving, sportfishing, surfing, whale watching and snorkelling with sea lions, while on land golf, hiking, and mountain biking await, just for starters. Equally compelling is the story of the destination’s history, which begins with ancient cave paintings dating back thousands of years and carries through development of the first Jesuit missions in the Californias in the 1600’s.
BCS’s geography is a unique mix of mountains, desert, beaches and rich oases, with the tranquil gulf on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. However, maybe most importantly, while Loreto may seem to offer something for everyone, it is not a place for anyone. Loreto tends to appeal to those who yearn for a connection to nature, a slower pace and a respect for culture. Those who ‘get it,’ love it!
- Is Baja California Sur currently open to tourists?
Baja California Sur is open to visitors under the guidance of the governor and state health department of Baja California Sur. Hotels and restaurants in Loreto and nearby towns are currently accepting guests at up to 70% capacity. Golf, pools and other activities offered on hotel properties are open with social distancing practices in place. Sport fishing, golf, water activities and public beaches are open with limited capacities.
- What safety precautions are in place to protect tourists, from the point of arrival to departure?
First and foremost, by virtue of our small population and wide open spaces, social distancing is in the DNA of Baja California Sur! But also, the state is a proud recipient of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) global safety stamp of approval in recognition of its safe travels protocols. All establishments adhere to Punto Limpio, a statewide mandate on safety and sanitation practices in accordance with the state’s colour-coded safety classification system. Travellers will be required to fill out a health questionnaire on arrival and departure. Travellers are required by law to wear a face covering. At this time, a COVID test or quarantine period is not required to visit Mexico.
- What kind of winter season are you anticipating in terms of tourist arrivals?
Based on the interest we’ve been seeing so far, and considering that occupancy limitations will continue for a while, we expect demand to exceed available supply this winter. Travellers hoping to make Loreto a winter escape should book now to ensure availability. The state will continue to maintain all safety precautions and appropriate limitations to ensure the wellness of both visitors and our community.
- What’s new for Baja in 2021? What should travel agents know about?
WestJet is resuming flights from Calgary to Loreto on Nov. 13, 2021 and service will be every Saturday through April 30, 2022.
Whale watching, one of the most intriguing attractions to our natural environment, will be in full swing this winter. Loreto sees both Blue Whales, the largest animals on earth, which tend to be elusive but can often be found in the bay right off Loreto, and the very friendly Gray Whales, which come to the Gulf of California to give birth in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Ojo de Liebre and San Ignacio Lagoons in Mulegé, and in Magdalena Bay, in Comondú.
Being a small city with mostly boutique, independent hotels, the tourism board of Loreto decided to offer an alternative to traditional hotel stays as a way of encouraging safer family or travel-pod visits. #OneWeekTakeover is a campaign to promote those small hotels and alert people to the opportunity to take over an entire property to themselves (some with as few as four guest rooms) and enjoy all the facilities including kitchen, pool, gardens and more, privately and safely. Program information and participating hotels can be found here.
For more information on travel to Baja California Sur go to http://visitbajasur.travel/es/.