Acapulco Making Waves at Seatrade Cruise Global
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
It’s a “welcome aboard” attitude in Fort Lauderdale this week as Seatrade Cruise Global 2016 sails into town to unite the cruise industry professional community for a week of education, networking and sourcing.
Alex Cassarrubias, port director of Acapulco, notes that the March 14-17 event is allowing the iconic Pacific Coast destination to flaunt positive news regarding its impressive growth in the cruise sector, offshore experiences for passengers and improved infrastructure.
“We are meeting with cruise lines, to reach new agreements, and with tour operators and the media to share the message that Acapulco has never ceased to provide a fun and safe environment,” says Cassarrubias. “In fact, Holland America confirmed today (March 15) that they will add two new cruise ships in 2017 to arrive at the destination. Acapulco is ready and prepared to keep welcoming cruisers from all over the world.” These two ships will bring approximately 5,000 passengers to Acapulco, restarting calls to the destination that Holland America ceased in 2012.
As part of Acapulco’s tourism comeback, the revived cruise ship segment is witnessing growth in both the number of vessels calling and number of passengers disembarking at the port. According to the Acapulco Destination Marketing Office (ADMO), the amount of cruise arrivals jumped from seven in 2014 to 15 in 2015 — resulting in a 121 percent increase of cruise ship visitors in 2015.
As the largest group of cruisers to arrive to the destination last year, U.S. travelers represented 70 percent of that tally. Cruise ship arrivals are estimated to jump to 18 this year.
“Our promotional strategy, which consisted of participation in numerous cruise-industry conferences, improvements on Acapulco’s infrastructure, and negotiations with major cruise lines led the success that we are experiencing,” said Pedro Haces Sordo, ADMO president. “Acapulco is gaining momentum in the cruise sector with the arrival of award-winning ships and thousands of international tourists.”
With the goal of maintaining a safe environment for visitors, ADMO created a local Cruise Committee consisting of the Municipal Tourism Ministry, State of Guerrero’s Tourism Ministry, DMC operators, port authorities, Federal Police and the Public Safety Ministry. The destination has also created CAPTA to provide visitor assistance, and has designed a special all-female police force to greet and assist tourists.
Hotel Occupancy Further Sparks Rising Stats
Things are also looking up on the hotel occupancy front, with Acapulco coming off one of its most successful winter season in years. According to the Secretary of Tourism of Guerrero, Jan. 1, 2016 scored the highest occupancy record in the past seven years with 98 percent — a 2.1 percent increase from the number reported on New Year’s Day 2015. Those numbers have grown in leaps and bounds compared to the 74 percent registered in 2012. From Dec. 20-31, hotel occupancy hit 83.5 percent, with hotels often reporting rates of 97 percent and above on additional dates throughout the month of December.
“For the first time in many years, we have seen a continuously high occupancy throughout the winter season with 16 days of over 80 percent hotel occupancy in the State of Guerrero,” said Ernesto Rodriguez Escalona, tourism secretary of the State of Guerrero. The state’s Acapulco, Taxco and Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo visitor destinations registered nearly 900,000 tourists in December, breaking records for the past seven years and contributing an economic impact of $150 million USD.
The destination continues to beef up its special events and festivals to add appeal. Those visiting during December were privy to a full slate of events, including a Holiday Parade with giant balloons and Mega Feria Mundo Imperial 2015 with 14 music groups and artists performing in the high energy Diamante entertainment area.
The destination also rang in 2016 with an eight-minute pyrotechnic extravaganza dazzling with more than 130,000 fireworks displayed throughout Santa Lucia Bay, Puerto Marques Bay, Bonfil and Pie de la Cuesta. According to the ADMO, the spectacle “rivaled that of other celebrations in New York, Sidney, Paris, London and Hong Kong.”
ADMO noted that Acapulco remains focused on continuing to boost tourism and providing visitors with the best vacation experience possible.
A commitment from tour operators, service providers and local businesses have helped the destination secure major events drawing international crowds — Acapulco Pro, a spectacular surfing tournament held on Playa Bonfil; Costa Pacifica Golf & Beach Polo tournament; el Rally del Golfo al Pacifico, a rally race of approximately 620 miles; Festival Frances de Acapulco, an art, film, fashion, music and food festival celebrating the strong relationship between France and Mexico; and the Festival Internacional de Cine Acapulco, showcasing local and international cinema.
In late February, Acapulco hosted the Mexico Open, one of the 13 Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour 500 series tournaments. Austria’s Dominic Thiem defeated Australia’s Bernard Tomic in the three-set final held at the Princess Mundo Imperial Riviera Hotel.
“We are excited to demonstrate that Acapulco stands out for more than its landscapes and sunsets as a major hub for world-renowned sporting events,” said ADMO’s Sordo. “We are supported by an excellent infrastructure that enables us to host international sport events of this magnitude and welcome such recognized tennis figures who contribute to putting Acapulco on the global spotlight.”
The Agent’s Edge
Acapulco offers nearly 260 hotels with more than 18,000 rooms that are mostly near beautiful beaches around the port. Some one-third of these accommodations fall into the luxury category. Among these are Las Brisas, Banyan Tree Cabo Marques, Princess Mundo Imperial Riviera (former Fairmont Acapulco Princess), Mayan Palace, Fiesta Americana Grand Diamante, Pierre Mundo (former Pierre Marques), Hotel Encanto, Camino Real Diamante and Quinta Real Acapulco.
With its diversity, the destination is appealing to couples and families. Active travelers enjoy excellent diving conditions, Blue Flag certified beaches and one of the world’s top nightclubbing scenes.
More by Dawna L. Robertson
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