•RESILIENCE: The Mexican Pacific resort of Los Cabos has several reasons to celebrate during the season: a string of international awards, a steady influx of high luxury travelers and a health-oriented fast-paced recovery. “Los Cabos With Care – A safer way to get away!” is the resort town´s mantra and is present in ads, campaigns and operation manuals. Los Cabos thus could be setting a trend followed worldwide in how to manage business and safety as the pandemic continues.
•NORMALCY: “We feel great about recovery,” Lilzi Orcí, the executive president of the Los Cabos Hotel Association (AHLC) told Travel Security. “At the beginning of the pandemic, we went over numerous scenarios with the Los Cabos Tourism Trust…Some timelines pointed to 2023 or 2024 for a possible recovery of lost activity. Now, we expect airline seat occupancy for flights bound to San José del Cabo International Airport (SJD) to reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year.”
•FLIGHTS: Los Cabos Tourism Trust (FITURCA) reports that 1.3 million flight seats to Los Cabos were booked from March through August of 2021. This is 22 percent more than the same period of last year. Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, and Seattle are the airports that have more significantly increased service to SJD. So far this year, Los Cabos ranks third among Mexican airports by number of international arrivals (123,000) behind Cancún (448,000) and Mexico City (132,000), according to Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism data.
•LUXURY: The profile of tourists visiting Los Cabos has changed with even luxury tourism on the rise. Widely popular among American tourists even before the pandemic, the destination has benefited from progress in vaccination efforts in the U.S.. People older than 50 are now returning in higher numbers while spring-breakers did not return entirely this season. Despite the fact that state authorities have capped occupancy to 50 percent, Ms. Orcí says that resorts have partially compensated for the loss of some clientele: today, fewer visitors arrive in town but spend more. Arrivals of private flights and yachts have both increased by 30 percent between February of 2020 and February of 2021, according to FITURCA. Over 100 private flights land daily in SJD and in the smaller airfield of Cabo San Lucas International Airport (CSL). Mrs. Orcí also explained that cruise ships have not returned yet, but most cruise travelers did not use to stay overnight in town before the pandemic in any case.
•SAFETY: Health and safety are the top concerns for international travelers these days, and Los Cabos has taken the challenge head-on. A series of awards and industry medals proves the point. In March, Los Cabos became the first destination in the world to receive the Verified badge from Atlanta’s health and wellness company Sharecare, assuring the strictest safety protocols in the majority of the town’s resorts. Moreover, the state of Baja California Sur (where Los Cabos is located) received last month the Global Champion Award for Destination Resilience from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). Last year, the WTTC had given Los Cabos its Safe Travel Seal and local officials had worked with quality-control company Intertek Cristal to obtain its global certification. It must be said that Los Cabos has benefited also from offering a wide range of safe outdoor activities. Visitors enjoy natural attractions more than ever, with aquatic adventures, hiking, organic gardens, and even hot springs (located in the Sierra Laguna Reserve, between Los Cabos and La Paz, gaining in popularity.
•SITUATION: As of the writing on this column, Baja California Sur is one of six Mexican states whose epidemiological threat level is orange (tier 3 of 4). Official data for the Los Cabos area shows that April ended with 9,836 confirmed accumulated Covid-19 cases (6 percent more than at the beginning of the month). Deaths since March 30 were 14. Like in other places of Mexico, January was the peak of the pandemic in Los Cabos, with some days recording over 100 cases. Risk remains an important thing to consider when traveling, and precautions must be taken, even when outdoors. Contagion is not limited to travelers but also to first-line workers and others in the hospitality business. Mrs. Orcí stated that for the local hotel association has planned for testing and care for its employees.
•SUMMIT: The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) held its annual summit in Cancún in April. The meeting’s format was a careful mix of in-person discussions and remote presentations, which allowed for the assistance of 600 officials and 35,000 participants worldwide. The summit itself could demonstrate the effectiveness of health and safety protocols to propel meetings tourism. Forbes reported on the occasion.
•PROTOCOLS: How safe is to travel in Mexico after vaccination? The Washington Post reflects on the dilemma with the help of a physician and a local guide. The article highlights the importance of respecting health protocols everywhere, and that the issue of dealing with travelers divides Mexicans. After vaccination, the odds of contracting Covid-19 diminish but do not disappear.
•CHINAMPAS: Condé Nast Traveler offers a view of the system of chinampas in Mexico City (the famous Xochimilco’s floating gardens). The canals and artificial islands were created by the Aztecs more than five centuries ago. During the pandemic the wetlands are a source of herbs and other produce in a tranquil part of the city.
•ESCAMOLES: The months of March and April are the season for eating escamoles, the larvae of two local ant species in Mexico. They are known as the Mexican caviar and have been a sumptuous and nutritious staple of the country´s world-class cuisine since Pre-Columbian times. You can find them served in Mexico’s heartland, in places like Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Mexico City, Puebla, Querétaro, and Tlaxcala. Escamoles shine in tacos, salsas, and even omelets, fried in lightly browned butter infused with epazote, a pungent herb tied to Mexican identity. Their taste is delicate, and they pack more protein than meat and chicken. Collecting escamoles is a prickly and risky business, as seen in this short video by Great Big Story that documents how they go from field to the table. Pair them with a smoky mezcal. ¡Salud!