Baja California shines in 2012: One of Baja’s best years for tourism.
By Brenda Colon
2012 will go down in tourism history books as one of the best years for Baja California, when it comes to gastronomy, sports, culture and art which have demonstrated their greatness far beyond the borders, explained Juan Tintos Funcke, who is the director of the Secretariat for Tourism, in an interview with SanDieogoRed.
The local economy for a long time has depended on tourism in the state. It has been difficult in recent year due to a wave of violence. However, throughout 2012, things have gone back to normal little by little.
Funcke indicated that this year there was a 5% increase in hotel occupancy in the state, particularly in Tijuana and in Ensenada.
In Ensenada — known also as the “Cinderella of the Pacific” — there have been 557 events and festivities that have been celebrated so far this year. The “Valle de Guadalupe” has become one of the top destinations along the Pacific Ocean nationally, and is surpassed only by Cozumel in that it is the most popular tourist destination searched for on the Internet.
In Tijuana, there is an assumption that the growth in tourism and hotel occupancy is due to sports — specifically marked by the great impact that the local soccer team, Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente; but that’s not quite true. Funcke stated that this border region has also transformed into the headquarters for business events, technology and medical tourism. Culture and art have had their share of success as well, with events such as “Entijuanarte” and “Tijuana Innovadora.”
The state’s greatness has also been reflected in the number of films that have been produced in the region, bringing celebrities like Edward James Olmos and Robert Redford, and also many sources of international media to the state that have attracted the attention of visitors from around the world.
One of the new biggest shining lights in the region is the BajaMed kitchen, which has played the starring role in many festivals like in the Baja Culinary Fest. Chefs like Miguel Angel Guerrero, Javier Plascencia and Diego Hernandez have also received international awards and many interviews.
VIDEO: Baja Culinary Fest 2nd edition closeout day.
These chefs have also demonstrated the best of what the region has to offer, using in their best dishes all types of local ingredients from natural, organic and sustainable resources. And, their meals are accompanied by some excellent wines — products of Baja California that, themselves, are brining people here.
According to the Secretariat for Tourism, 90 percent of all Mexican wines are produced in Baja California, and that this wine industry has transformed the region by creating a touristic route through which flows visitors come from different parts within the country. This, the Wine Route, has been a great accomplishment. Due to the effect that the vineyards have had on the region, different local and state government agencies have worked hard to improve road conditions and to create scenic areas for those who come and visit the region in their ownvehicles.
There have been also several initiative programs created and small economic credits for local producers, with the intention to influence their growth.
The new Baja California strategy will build on this to be not only the Wine Route, which now will be known as the “cheese and wine route.”
Baja California has been visited also by many international chefs like Rick Bayless, Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain who have also highlighted the greatness that can be enjoyed in this state, along with some of the best restaurants to eat at like Mission 19, Corazon de Tierra and the sensational seafood that is prepared by Mrs. Sabina at her street food cart “La Guerrerense” that has been also featured in Newsweek magazine.
Noteworthy is the tourism of Latinos from California, Arizona and Nevada who come to Baja California to celebrate family weddings, “quinceañeras,” and who also take advantage of their stay in the region by visiting restaurants and enjoying all of the events that may be happening.
Juan Tintos Funcke, Tourism Secretary, also talked about a very important topic, which was in regards to the economic link that California has with Baja California, Mexico, “El Chaparral.”
This new gateway for entry into Mexico started operating three weeks before it was originally planned for, and has better signs with 22 lanes that multiply the access for vehicles.
Residents from Baja California have also contributed to the local economy on the other side of the border as well, and are included in the number of shoppers that have helped increase sales by 20 percent throughout the Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
For the upcoming year 2013, Baja California is expected to continue on this recovery trend that includes the grand opening of a new Convention Center, the improvement of roads throughout the state, and also the increase in the number of films that will be produced in the region along with more international celebrities visiting the state.
The recommendation that Juan Tintos Funcke made was to take advantage of Baja California, a very diverse state.
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