By: Ian Stalker
Count Aeromexico among those who have benefited from Puerto Vallarta’s growing tourist popularity.
Michele Martinson, Aeromexico’s Canadian sales manager, says her airline is clearly capitalizing on the Pacific Ocean-fronting destination’s appeal in this country.
“For the past five years Puerto Vallarta has increased its tourism offerings compared to previous years, and it has now become one of the most important destinations within Mexico,” she states. “For Aeromexico, the growth of passengers to this destination has had a steady rise, which has led our company to create more options to connect to this city. With the exception of 2020, before the pandemic, bookings from Canada to Puerto Vallarta have risen up to 18% during the last quarter of the previous years (2018 and 2019).
“As of today, we have up to 31 weekly flights from Mexico City, and we are working to bring back more frequencies, as long as the restrictions and demand allow us to do so. This means that our clients will have more options to connect to Puerto Vallarta from Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal via Mexico City.”
Puerto Vallarta has long been seeing charter service from this country, delivering guests to a seaside city that lures many vacationers drawn not only by beaches but a traditional Mexican ambiance, and those charters carry people directly to the city, whereas Canadians planning to visit it with Aeromexico must first go through Mexico City. But Martinson says her carrier has a couple of aces up its sleeve when it comes to competing for Canadian business, including having taken measures that should help reassure potential passengers during the coronavirus pandemic.
“At Aeromexico, our passengers’ and collaborators’ security and safety are a priority,” she says. “That is why we have a Health and Sanitization Management System (HSMS), created in collaboration with a Medical Advisory Committee. We have focused all our efforts in enhancing our on board product and connections to all the destinations we fly to. By creating more flight frequencies to Puerto Vallarta, we are therefore shortening the time our passengers wait at the airports during their transfers, creating a faster and more convenient travel experience. We were the first airline to implement one of the most sophisticated artificial intelligence-powered baggage tracking systems into our passenger chatbot. This works through WhatsApp, where passengers can enter their flight information into the chatbot (called Aerobot) and instantly receive the latest location of their bag without the need for airline staff to intervene. This new system has created more confidence for our clients to locate their luggage real time.”
As well, Aeromexico notes its daily service provides greater flexibility in the length of a vacation than charters offer.
In fact, Martinson says Canada has become a very important market for Aeromexico, which started operations in this country almost 10 years ago with its first flight to Montreal and since has grown its operations in this market. “Prior to the pandemic, we had 2 daily flights to the three (Canadian) cities we fly to, and up to 3 daily flights during high season,” Martinson reports. “This means that our operations in Canada have had a significant increase during the last years. Due to the pandemic crisis, we currently operate in Canada with the following frequencies: a. Vancouver: 3 weekly flights per week. We will increase our operations to a daily service from Dec. 13. b. Toronto: 3 weekly flights per week. We will increase our operations to a daily service from Dec. 13. c. Montréal: 3 weekly flights per week. We will increase to 5 flights a week, starting in the second week of December.”
Martinson says the airline is committed to gradually re-establishing operations as market conditions and restrictions allow it to to levels prior to the pandemic. Meanwhile, tourism officials in the inland city of Guardalajara — which like Puerto Vallarta is found in the state of Jalisco — say that not all of Jalisco’s appeal lies by the ocean.
“We know that Guadalajara is not as well known in Canada as Puerto Vallarta is but something to consider is that Guadalajara is the soul of Mexico, as in this area the icons of Mexico were born. Mariachi, charros (the Mexican cowboy sport), and tequila are from this region,” says Javier Aguayo of the Chamber of Commerce of Guadalajara. “Also, Tequila is a town 45 minutes by car from Guadalajara and is where tequila was born. Plenty of tequila factories are there and you can visit them to know the tequila process and of course to have a real tequila tasting with a Maestro Tequilero (A Tequila Master). Guadalajara has a mix of a traditional and modern city and it is also an experience to go to Puerto Vallarta by ground, visiting different Mexican towns (en route), as it is is only 4 hours from Guadalajara.
Another spot near Guadalajara, also 45 minutes away, is Chapala Lake, which is the largest lake in Mexico and has “marvellous weather. This is why it is the second-best place in Mexico for retired Canadian people, the name of this town at the edge of the Lake is Ajijic,” he says.
“Guadalajara is full of magic places and different ways to enjoy, as an example, you can also visit haciendas (old Mexican big houses) that have now become boutique hotels, you can enjoy wonderful spas, ride a horse or simply relax and live the real spirit of Mexico.”
Meanwhile, Aguayo says Jalisco moved quickly to get a grip on the coronavirus pandemic and that has paid dividends.
“Jalisco was also the first state to work in the anti-covid protocol implementation so, these actions helped us not only to be prepared but to send a safety message to the tourists that now are able to come,” he reports.