By Jorge Chávez
With unprecedented investment, in June 2013 the Mexican Federal Ministry of Tourism presented a tourism promotional campaign targeting the U.S. market entitled “Live It to Believe It” that unifies Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit as one tourist destination.
The Ameca River has been the only physical division between the two resort destinations and in the minds of visitors and residents there is practically no division between the destinations of Riviera Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta.
But natural competition grew between the two destinations to attract more tourists, with Riviera Nayarit focusing on luxury and comfort and Puerto Vallarta focusing on its authenticity and traditional Mexican charm.
IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM, JOIN THEM…
The Minister for Tourism at the Tourism Board of Mexico introduced this joining of financial and human resources that is expected to increase both the number of tourists and the economic flow in the two destinations.
The Tourism Board will invest $10 million USD into Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit for a year, with promotional spots on television, radio, internet, newspapers and magazines and promotional trips to both destinations.
“Live It to Believe It” is a creative and visual representation of visitor’s memories into the region, in which she voices-over stunning footage of the Banderas Bay area, telling the story of her experience in the destination from her unique viewpoint as a recent tourist.
Although in theory this joint investment bodes well for both destinations, there are a couple of challenges faced by the co-promotion:
1) The population of both destinations needs to get onboard with the promotional campaign to exhibit the excellent standards of customer service and the welcoming friendliness required to support two resort areas footed so strongly in foreign tourism dollars.
2) That the investment aids smaller areas such as Bucerias and La Cruz de Huanacaxtle and continues to support those in regions in development such as Sayulita and San Pancho.
To date, much of the economic boom has been a direct result of private investment.
RADIO SPOTS HEARD IN PUERTO VALLARTA ONLY…
Prior to “Live It to Believe It”, the business community and government agencies in Puerto Vallarta joined a strategy called “City Marketing” to which $5 million MXN was contributed by various local businesses to carry out a unprecedented national promotional effort for the destination.
Throughout May, June and July, Grupo ACIR, the mastermind behind the campaign, has been airing radio spots marketing Puerto Vallarta in key markets such as Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Toluca, Morelia, San Luis Potosi, Queretaro and Leon.
CONTROVERSY ARISES… A NEW TOURISM BRAND IS BORN?
While efforts continue to promote tourism individually, many residents and businesses in both in Riviera Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta support the joint campaign and hope that this new joint tourism brand brings benefit to both destinations.
But there are many factors to consider for this promotional effort to bare fruit:
1) The political leaders of both states must put regional differences aside to diminish barriers for Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit to work together effectively, particularly seeing that the current governors belong to the same political party.
2) Eliminate the historical jealousy and competitiveness between the two destinations and take advantage of the connectivity, infrastructure, conventions, luxury offerings, natural resources and tourist attractions that each destination provides.
3) Strengthen bonds of allegiance consistently and not just during times of large scale international events such as the Tianguis Turistico 2012 (International Tourism Expo) or the 2012 World Economic Forum on Latin America.
Looking back to the 2011 Pan American Games Guadalajara, in which Puerto Vallarta hosted Beach Volleyball, Open Water Swimming, Triathlon and Sailing, the fact that the Sailing event was held at the Vallarta Yacht Club, in Riviera Nayarit, was erroneously downplayed.
Collaboration is nothing new in business, and increasingly less so in tourism.
Cancun and Riviera Maya have been promoted as a single destination and the result has been their positioning as one of the world’s major tourist destinations and for international visitors to Mexico, maximizing benefits and minimizing weaknesses, to create a prestigious brand.
And then, of course, there’s what many just call “Cabo”, the cities of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas which have been purposely marketed as a single destination with a view to the future.
THE LONG ROAD
Although with “City Marketing” Puerto Vallarta has been advertised nationally, the “Live It to Believe It” campaign is directed to the U.S. and Canada market, so the first true results will begin to show in October when the season starts.
There is still a lot of work to be done to meet these forward-thinking goals and the ultimate objectives of what has been a major economic investment, and both Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit will have to wait to see what impact, if any, this investment in strengthening regional tourism.
The next challenge for the agencies behind this fledgling and bold initiative will be to publish the results, for better or worse.
Jorge Chávez is Senior Editor at Mijo! Brands in Mexico. Mijo! Brands is a full service marketing and communications agency based in Puerto Vallarta with a satellite office in Mexico City. www.mijobrands.com