Skift Take

After the shocking closing of Mexico's federal tourism board, it's good news to see an international office opening — this time funded by the private sector rather than with government money.

Less than a year after Mexico’s national tourism board was dismantled, the Los Cabos Tourism Board is opening its first international office in Los Angeles on Thursday.

The former national tourism board’s international outposts were either closed or transferred to embassies in the wake of the funding loss. Los Cabos will now be the only Mexican destination to have a promotional office outside of Mexico. Los Angeles was a natural choice, said Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of Los Cabos Tourism Board, because California accounts for 40 percent of Los Cabos’ international arrivals.

When the federal tourism board lost its funding, destination-level tourism boards lost around $2.5 million in resources and contributions, according to numbers provided by the DMO. With that went much of the funding that allowed DMOs to do things like promote themselves on the ground and provide in-market support in key foreign markets.

Los Cabos, which has seen 4 percent year on year growth in international arrivals in the first seven months of 2019  — outpacing Mexico’s 1.7 percent growth — is somewhat uniquely positioned to pick up this in-market mantle. In June, in response to the funding loss, it created a private trust comprised of contributions from the private sector including hotels, airports, and restaurant operators.

It was able to do that, explained Esponda, because it had a pre-existing high degree of participation and trust with the private sector. That’s because Los Cabos is the only destination in Mexico which is required by law to allocate all of the revenue from a 3 percent hotel tax strictly to promotional efforts. It is those private sector contributions which are in turn supporting the Los Angeles office.

“If we did not have a transparent use of the funding or we did not have open participation of the private sector, they would not be open to contributing incremental funding to do more activities,” such as the office in Los Angeles and participation on foreign trade shows, Esponda said.

Susie Albin-Najera, who formerly worked with large tour operators Pleasant Holidays and Journese, will head the LA office. “Los Cabos is at the forefront of travel innovation and taking forward steps to elevate its brand recognition and I am very excited to be part of this growth,” she said of the opening.


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Tags: DMO, los cabos, mexico, tourism

Photo credit: The Westin Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico. Jeff Gunn / Flickr

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