Land's End, at the tip of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, is a popular tourist destination. The Los Cabos region has focused on increased security and sustainability. (Denise Bennett/Tribune News Service/TNS)
Photo: Denise Bennett/TNS
Photo: Denise Bennett/TNS

Los Cabos is a model for sustainability

Long a favored Mexican visitor destination, Los Cabos is as popular for its plethora of visitor activities as it for its proximity to the United States. 

Less than a three-hour plane ride from most of Texas and California, Los Cabos can also be reached in just about five hours for New Yorkers. Moreover, the destination welcomes 500 flights weekly from 40 cities in the United States and Canada, including a new Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago Midway, which will commence in November.  

While the destination has struggled somewhat with its public image after the State Department upped its warning language last year, Los Cabos is now bouncing back with a roar. (In January, the State Department re-classified Los Cabos as a Level 2 destination, which is on par with most countries in Europe.)  

Also helping feed the re-invigorated interest in the area is a long list of well-publicized luxury hotel openings and a surge in arrivals by celebrity travelers.  

Also helping, arrivals by cruise ship are also increasing, with the port welcoming a 14 percent increase in arrivals to date in 2018 over the same period last year.  

For the Los Cabos Tourism Board, the plan to drive tourism is about much more than relying on a carefully orchestrated public relations strategy.  

Last year, for example, a series of high-profile incidences, although not directed at visitors, left potential travelers wondering if it might be time to take a pass on visiting the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.  

But the Tourism Board, in partnership with other public and private entities, quickly jumped into action, establishing a “five-point action plan to ensure the safety of all tourists and citizens.” They also funneled nearly $50 million into security efforts throughout the region.  

The efforts are working.  

“We have seen a 90 percent decrease in violent crime this year,” said Rodrigo Esponda, the managing director for the Los Cabos Tourism Board in an interview with TravelPulse.  

While Los Cabos’ focus on increased security has been well publicized, what is not as well known about the region is its commitment to healthy growth.  

For Los Cabos, sustainability is more than just a catchphrase or a marketing slogan. Rather it is an ethos that long pre-dates the current administration.  

“Now we call it sustainability,” joked Esponda. “Back then, we called it long-term vision.”  

For example, despite the long list of new hotels opening their doors in Los Cabos, precautions against over-development are well-established.  

Forget about ever finding Vegas-style properties here. Hotels in the region are capped at about 220 rooms each. Most hotels are also tasked with height limits, with most prohibited from exceeding six stories. Others still are limited to four and even two stories.  

A drive along the Resort Corridor (the coastline between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas) will also quickly reveal that not a single billboard mars the ocean view. Billboards are prohibited on this stretch.  

Even lesser known is that 42 percent of the state is protected area. The figure includes a number of marine preserves and a UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere. Which means Los Cabos’ world-famous diving and deep sea fishing operators must work within a strict set of parameters that protect the off-shore marine life.  

Green efforts abound in Los Cabos.  

In fact, said Esponda, “No other beach destination in Mexico has as many initiatives for sustainability as we do.”  

Among them, the newly re-opened Los Cabos International Convention Center has the largest green wall in North America. Additionally, no straws are permitted anywhere in the state.  

As for Los Cabos’ famed beaches, 19 of them have been designated as Blue Flag beaches, an eco-friendly certification given to the cleanest beaches in the world.  

“To put it into context, there are only 800 Blue Flag Beaches in the world,” said Esponda.  

At its core, said Esponda, Los Cabos’ success is driven by the community’s strong sense of corporate social responsibility. Here, public, private and civic leaders put the well-being of the collective destination over that of individual interests.  

As an example, Esponda cited recovery efforts after Hurricane Lidia deluged the region last year.  

“Immediately after the storm, the community organized to clean the beach,” said Esponda. “They didn’t have to be told to do so, they just did it.”  

Ultimately, says Esponda, the destination is committed to its role as a guardian of the environment.  

“If you take care of the environment, you will see the benefits.”  

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(TravelPulse is a leading travel authority on the Web, providing consumer travel news and insider tips and advice for an ever-changing travel world. Read more stories at travelpulse.com)

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