The tourism sector has been heavily affected by the pandemic. What measures have you taken in the State of Baja California Sur to support the sector?
The most economically affected sector is tourism, not only in Baja California Sur, but also the entire country and the world. The most important sector in Baja California Sur is the tourism sector; two-thirds of the GDP is related to the tourism industry. The impact was massive. We estimated an impact of MXN30 billion and job losses of around 22,000. During the total lockdown, which was implemented in late April, May, and June, we worked closely with businesses to develop action protocols so that we could respond when the restrictions were lifted. We had great support from the private sector and worked on those protocols. There is currently no activity within the tourism industry that does not have a protocol to operate safely. In addition, we worked to certify companies. The certifications were not mandatory, so we worked with the federal government to obtain some certifications on clear environment. We have more than 1,250 certifications in that area, so that demonstrates our big focus on this area. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) granted us a seal of safe travel due to all these actions. We were the first destination in the Pacific to receive this seal from the WTTC. That helps us because most of the tourists that we receive are foreigners, and the seal inspires trust and confidence.
You opened new flight routes that operate from the municipalities of Loreto and La Paz. How are you promoting these destinations in the US?
Even though these are challenging times, we have the advantage that sun and holiday destinations have resumed flight operations. We are very close to the US, and that proximity helps us launch new flights. Now that working from home is a trend, an executive can work from his hotel room while looking at the beach. With that in mind, we are opening new routes in La Paz, Los Cabos, and Loreto while other destinations are struggling. The recovery in Baja California is going extremely well. Now, the goal is to be extremely careful to avoid having more restrictions. We will soon see are flights from Dallas and Phoenix to Loreto as well as other flights from Dallas and Phoenix to La Paz. This is a milestone because it has been 10 years since La Paz received its last international flight. These give us high hopes for the coming months. The news around the vaccine are extremely positive, so we expect we will gradually recover what we lost.
What other tourism infrastructure investments are a priority for 2021?
We recently announced our historical towns. In Baja California Sur, we have two municipalities under the Pueblos Magicos program: Todos Santos and Loreto. We have created our own brand of historical town, and we have named seven villages of Baja California Sur that are beautiful, including Santiago, El Triunfo, San Javier, Santa Rosalía, and San Ignacio. We want to show that we have more than just beautiful beaches, so we are proud of this program to increase the tourist offerings. We also just inaugurated a maritime route from Guaymas to Santa Rosalía that will be beneficial for the northern area. Travelers are now seeking rural areas and isolated environments. It is a luxury to be in isolated areas, and the population density in Baja California Sur is among the lowest in Mexico. The most important hotel brands in the world are located in Baja California Sur. We have the best hotels here, and they are more exclusive and unique. We want to have boutique hotels with few rooms for high-end customers. We also want to conduct all these activities while protecting the environment.