TREND: Puerto Peñasco strives to prove it is more than just a Spring Break getaway. The city has faced two obstacles for recovering from the economic downturn: a health emergency on both sides of the border and worries about violence. Nonetheless, it is a hotspot for Arizona tourists and American and Canadian retirees. Now, it is also calling on tourists from California, Nevada, and even Utah.
•The town is a privileged spot for adventurers, foodies, golfers, and others wanting to relax. Waters from the Sea of Cortez, also known as the World´s Aquarium for its rich biodiversity, lap the beaches of Puerto Peñasco. The Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere in the land stretch between the Arizona border and the sea is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With just 60,000 inhabitants, it is a tourism powerhouse. In 2019, 2.2 million visitors enjoyed its great weather, cuisine, and vistas. That same year, the Cruiseship Astoria sailed on its maiden voyage from Puerto Peñasco, showcasing the port´s potential for diversifying attractions.
•The town is located just a stone´s throw away. Phoenix and Tucson are both 215 miles from Puerto Peñasco, or a 4-hour drive away. Distance to San Diego is 360 miles or a 6-hour trip. Travelers mainly use the Lukeville, Az. Port of Entry. Data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows that the number of passengers who crossed into Sonora through point using personal vehicles (64,757 in September) almost reached pre-pandemic levels (73,412 March).
•Although the town is a safe place for visitors, travelers should be mindful of local security conditions on the road. In July, the inhabitants of Sonoyta, a city between Lukeville and Puerto Peñasco, improvised temporary roadblocks and checkpoints on Mexican Federal Highway 8 (which connects to AZ-85). They claimed that people coming to celebrate US Independence Day would spread Covid-19 in Sonora. Additionally, in November of 2019, a Mormon Mexican-American family traveling near the U.S. border, from Sonora to Chihuahua, was killed in an ambush by organized crime. The U.S. State Department says it is safe to travel to Puerto Peñasco during daylight hours. Do not make stops in small or remote places on the way. Make sure your car and travel insurance are valid for Mexico.
•The number of Covid-19 cases (271) in Puerto Peñasco has remained low compared to Arizona and Sonora cities. International tourism is the city´s main economic activity, hence its vigorous response to the health crisis. Curfews are in place every night (10 PM to 06 AM )and masks are required in public spaces. At some point during the pandemic, only travelers with reservations were allowed in the city. Although not the case anymore, consider preparing your visit before leaving home. Local authorities recommend only staying in certified locations; this includes lodging and RV parks (Visit the list and other protocols at https://puertopenasco.gob.mx/2020/06/15/entry-protocol-for-tourist/). Carry I.D.s for all accompanying travelers and wear a mask at all times.
TAKEAWAY: Puerto Peñasco has tightly integrated into the American economy and hopes economic ties will revive. Every Spring Break, a steady 800,000 visitors take-in the sun on the local beaches. The city is leveraging this opportunity to attract investors and other kinds of tourists for year-round activities. Destination weddings, motorcycle rallies, food markets, golf tournaments, and the Desert Jazz Festival (premiering Nov. 13, 2020) are examples of new kinds of activities that have Americans in mind. Top class health services, an English-speaking population, and a significant expat community garner extra-points. Although some activities may be limited, you can make the best of the holiday season right here. Health services, an English-speaking population, and a significant expat community garner extra-points.
* Spotlight by Sergio Mendoza, Senior Consultant at Riskop, a consulting firm focused on strategic intelligence and risk mitigation for investors and decision-makers in complex sociopolitical environments. It is located in Monterrey, Mexico. Twitter: @RiskopMx