The entire Baja California Sur region, which also includes La Paz and Los Cabos, is enjoying a post-pandemic tourist explosion as traffic at the three airports in the region increased by 34 percent between January 2022 and January 2023.
This compares favorably with a 22.4 percent year-over-year increase in 2022 and a 25.4 percent year-over-year increase in 2021.
Numbers of Tourists Continue to Grow
According to the Ministry of Tourism and Economy (SETUE) of the Baja California Sur region, tourism numbers for 2022 exceed even their own expectations, with more than four million visitors by air. This number added to the smaller volume of visitors that also came to Baja California Sur by sea or roads.
Passengers from the United States and Canada accounted for 97 percent of the total international tourist traffic to Baja California Sur. Tourists from the United States alone increased 28.9 year-over-year compared to 2019.
While a majority of the international traffic came from the United States and Canada, the ministry also cited the significant impact of the direct Madrid, Spain to Los Cabos route, which highlighted more than three thousand total passengers from that European country.
The Los Cabos International Airport was the main destination for tourists in the region. It ranked third in the entire country for international passenger numbers behind traditional heavyweights Mexico City and Cancun.
Additionally, the La Paz Tourism Trust (FITUPAZ) reported a 4.6 percent increase of visitors by air compared with 2019. It also registered a 66 percent hotel occupancy rate with an average stay of 6.1 nights for visitors from the United States.
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What’s Powering the Growth?
There are a number of key factors leading to the rapid growth in tourist travel to the region.
First, there is a trend in the United States that many experts are calling “revenge travel”. Broadly defined, this is the pent-up desire for people to travel after the strict lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic made it inconvenient, or nearly impossible, to travel, especially internationally.
Second, the younger generation is more focused on enjoying experiences with their money instead of purchasing products.
They are also more globally aware due to the Internet. This is reflected in the younger generation wanting to travel more and experience the world. Mexico and Baja California Sur are conveniently close and familiar enough for an easy vacation getaway.
Last, efforts by local officials in the region have been improving the accessibility to amenities that travelers are seeking, such as water sports, sportfishing, and nightlife.
They have also been working to develop more flights from additional destinations to bring travelers to the area. Because of this, the Los Cabos airport is expecting more than eight million passengers this year.
Additionally, local resorts and restaurants have been actively marketing to broaden the reach of Los Cabos tourist traffic to include more of a different customer demographic – luxury visitors.
High-end amenities and luxury excursions are bringing a new level of sophistication to the region, which typically has been associated with discount travelers and Spring Breakers. Some of the rooms in the resorts are even considered a spa-style getaway in your room.
Los Cabos Responds
The strong demand from tourists wanting to visit Los Cabos for vacation is leading to a number of key developments in the area.
For example, the local government is working on upgrading the infrastructure in the area, including roads, security cameras, and lighting, to provide safety and convenience to guests.
The airport is also expanding to accommodate more passenger traffic, including expanding terminal two by nine gates and building a brand new state-of-the-art terminal three. Both are expected to be completed in 2024.
Stories also abound of new resort construction to complement additional guest services, such as the addition of world-class Greg Norman golf courses to appeal to more luxury travelers to the local area.
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