Last year was a tough one for Acapulco after negative press about the destination reached the U.S. on a number of occasions. In 2011, however, Acapulco is looking to move past the adverse news and remind travelers that the resort city is still welcoming visitors to its beaches and impressing them with new properties like the Banyan Tree Cabo Marques, as well as new facilities like the Mundo Imperial mega-complex. We spoke with Piquis Rochin, director of international promotions for the Acapulco Destination Marketing Office, about how Acapulco is once again making itself a hot spot for glamorous getaways.
How has Acapulco fared this past year in terms of visitor numbers? We had a very good year in 2010 because we had an increase in visitor numbers. Last year Acapulco welcomed more than nine million visitors to the destination, both domestic and international, and we saw a 10 percent increase in international tourists over 2009. In March 2011, the Secretary of Tourism for the State of Guerrero reported an average of 97 percent hotel occupancy over the weekend of March 21, which is a national holiday in Mexico (Benito Juarez’s birthday).
What one message would you like to communicate to the U.S. travel agents about safety in the destination? Despite recent reports in the international press, Acapulco remains a safe destination for all visitors both international and domestic. While not intending to minimize the severity of the criminal acts that have occurred, it is important to note that no tourists were involved and the Acapulco Destination Marketing Office supports the efforts of the state government in this matter. All the tourism areas are well taken care of by the security hired by property owners as well as by municipal police. So visitors to Acapulco can enjoy and relax in Acapulco from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave. There is no need to worry about anything regarding safety.
What new Acapulco tourism products should U.S. travel agents know about? There have been multi-million dollar investments in the Diamante area, particularly with the construction of the new Mundo Imperial, the mega-complex in the Diamante area that includes convention and exhibition centers and a theater as well as a luxury hotel and spa. The new Banyan Tree hotel, which is also in Diamante, opened last year and it’s one of only two Banyan Tree properties in Mexico. That says investors really believe in Acapulco. In the more traditional part of the city, the Hotel Boca Chica reopened last year after it was acquired and refurbished by Mexico City’s Grupo Habita. They have kept the original retro feel, but modernized it without changing the concept. The cliff divers of La Quebrada also recently introduced a new multimedia component to the show that consists of high-tech laser lights in conjunction with a 12-minute video giving background information on the history of diving and even interviews with some of the divers.
What is the new “Habla Bien de ACA” campaign about? This started as a local campaign that came about when all of the negative news about the destination started to become tiring. So many of the local restaurant and nightclub owners started telling their staff, their customers and even the taxi drivers who do business with them to speak well of Acapulco or “habla bien de ACA” [ACA is the airport code for the Acapulco Alvarez International Airport]. When visitors to the city ask locals how things are in Acapulco, they should talk about the new Mundo Imperial or suggest an attraction that the visitor can go explore so as not to continue the negativity. We’re also planning to bring the campaign to the U.S. via social networks and we’re also thinking about doing an even bigger campaign in the U.S.
Who is the typical American visitor to Acapulco? Most of our American visitors are families. We also have golfers, business travelers and many Americans who own homes in Acapulco. Families come for the beach, the proximity to many places in the U.S., the climate, attractions like our cliff divers, iconic hotels like Las Brisas, the Banyan Tree and the Boca Chica, as well as the shopping and the gastronomy.
How does the destination work with U.S. travel agents? We offer travel professionals a complimentary training course call Acapulco Academy, which can be found at www.aca-academy.com or www.magicofmexico.com. It’s a three-tier educational program that includes a study course, study guide and fam trip opportunity. Each of the three lessons covers key aspects of Acapulco and there is also a digital library with maps, hyperlinks and the 2011 course guide.
For more information on Acapulco, visit www.visiteacapulco.com.
Kerry Medina is executive editor covering Mexico for TravelPulse.com.