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In preparation for the swearing in ceremony on September 16th, Puerto Peñasco’s next mayor Ernesto “Kiko” Munro has spent much of his time since the June elections in gearing up to guide the city’s future. Following visits to both Hermosillo and Mexico City to review and in some cases rediscover existing proposals and ideas for the region, Kiko’s efforts have resulted in a series of recent forums and community meetings encompassing topics from strengthening ties across the border (as seen with the visit of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce), to urban reform and development models, business, and tourism promotion.
On Thursday, August 27th, representatives from the Mexican “think tank” Contorno sat center stage with Kiko at the Las Palomas Convention Center to go over points from a tourism study they had initially developed in Puerto Peñasco in November of last year upon the request of Sonoran Secretary of Tourism Promotion Javier Tapia Camou, assisted by the local Convention and Visitors Bureau. Under the enthusiastic leadership of Contorno President, Oscar Espinosa Villareal who served as Mexican Secretary of Tourism (1997-2000) as well as former Regent of Mexico City (1994-97), the Contorno group presented a wealth of compelling data regarding Mexico’s placement in global tourism in general, as well as strategic possibilities and opportunities for Puerto Peñasco.
Global tourism, detailed Espinosa, increased 4.7% in 2014 over the previous year while in Mexico this percentage was 20.5%. According to the Puerto Peñasco Convention and Visitors Bureau this trend points to a 22% increase in tourism to the city in 2015 over last. However, across Mexico it would appear while tourism numbers are growing the average amount people spend on vacation is just over $500 US, landing Mexico further down on the list of countries for income from tourism. “Imagine the opportunities in Puerto Peñasco of raising this even to an average of just $750 US!” exclaimed Espinosa.
One of the strongest points to echo throughout the Contorno presentation was the proposal of creating a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), which for all intents and purposes could be complementary to or arguably enhance the role of the current Convention and Visitors Bureau given that these two terms (DMO and CVB) are often used interchangeably within tourism circles. Strong areas of opportunity in Puerto Peñasco, as seen through the lens of Contorno and which surely have been at the forefront of conversations for those of us living or visiting Puerto Peñasco over the years, include Conventions, Health Tourism, Retirement Communities, Golf and Luxury Tourism, Social Tourism (i.e. volunteer groups), Adventure and EcoTourism (particularly with the World Heritage Site of the Pinacate Biosphere and Desert of Altar), and possibly Rural Tourism and Casinos.
In presenting the Contorno group to the audience, which included tourism and real estate representatives from across Puerto Peñasco, Kiko explained, “During a trip to Mexico City, I sought to meet with (Contorno) so they could tell me a bit about what they have been studying and projecting in order to position Puerto Peñasco as a spot for investment as a tourist destination, yet in line with urban development that will allow Peñasco to live at the level of quality it needs.” The invitation to present their studies in Puerto Peñasco came as a result of Kiko’s interview with Contorno’s Tourism Associate Director Dr. César Castañenda.