Que Pasa in Baja?

December 28, 2015 Edition
BY: OLIVER QUINTERO

Tourists spending less. Recently the Mexican national bank reported that tourist spending was about 5% lower this year from the same figures in 2014. What’s up with that? Couldn’t everyone use one more glow-in-the-dark Elvis painting on black velvet? No? Then could we interest you in a nice plaster statue of Guadalupe?

The cut in spending could be attributed in part to a stronger dollar because now you get almost 20% more pesos for your dollars than last year and all tourism figures are calculated in U.S. dollars. That means they don’t have to spend as much dinero to have a good time. That would leave more $$ for that last minute gift serape at the border.

Crew Center. Ensenada just opened the doors to a “crew center” located inside the new caracol museum. This small space was requested by the cruise ship companies as a place where their crew could relax off the ship. The center has multiple computers, free wifi and information about the city and services they could require while they are docked here. Like that pair of huaraches that would fit right in back in the Philippines.

Governor Kiko Vega inaugurated the center last week and said this was another step towards increasing the number of ships docking in Ensenada. According to state tourism figures, people off the cruise ships brought to Baja more than 26 million dollars this year.

Creative City.  UNESCO just designated Ensenada as part of their Creative Cities network in the gastronomy field. Launched in 2004 and now comprising 116 member cities, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network aims to foster international investing in creativity as a driver for sustainable urban development, social inclusion and cultural vibrancy, whatever the hell that is.

Ensenada is the first city to join the network in this field. The rest of the invitees are probably still trying to figure out what it’s all about.

 Two other cities in Mexico were also given the designation: Puebla in the design field and San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas in the Crafts and Folk Art field. So, do you think anyone at our City Hall knows what they’re supposed to do with this new status? Doubtful. 

Furniture sales on the rise. Rosarito has seen a notable increase in sales of furniture in the Popotla Blvd. drive by shopping district. That’s what the boss of this paper calls it. She drives down the street real slow, only getting out to buy something, so if it’s not in the front row it doesn’t get bought by her. She loves it, so she always buys something. She was very sad when they widened the road, extending the pavement into the store aisles, as she called it. Now she has to slow down traffic behind her. She calls those who honk at her “pushy shoppers”.  She doesn’t seem to get it that they aren’t shoppers at all, they’ve got places to go.

Anyhow, in a recent interview the president of the local association of furniture manufacturers of Rosarito, Edgar Orozco, said this was the first year they are seeing a big increase in sales. Local manufacturers agree that their sales are up almost 60% from 2014.

“Most of us did very well with the American tourists, this is a good sign that 2016 will be a good year for us, we had an increase of hotel room occupancy and more visitors from California, which are our main clients, we just have to keep working to avoid drive by stealing that affected us so much.” said Orozco. Oops. Well, I can assure you the boss doesn’t drive by steal. She does wonder about it, though, she says all the time that it would be so easy…..

Tourism promotion for Rosarito. The tourism promotion committee in Rosarito just announced a 300K USD budget for next year to be used to lure more tourists to the city. The money is scooped up from the 3% tax charged to every hotel room booked. The bed tax, it’s called.

Angel Vives, president of the committee, said that 70% of the budget will be invested in promotions focused on  bringing more Americans to Rosarito, while the remaining 30% will be destined to bring national tourists from Guadalajara, Monterrey and Mexico City, which all have direct flights to Tijuana. What about the Mexicali folks? We attract a chingo of those every summer, because it’s so hot there. We are their beach town. Why don’t we invest in billboards in Mexicali in the summer time? Buen idea? You bet. They should hire me to run their program.

Malecon budget approved. Rosarito just got a little more than 4 million USD approved from the federal government to start construction of our own malecon. You might call it a boardwalk, although this will be a concrete boardwalk. This malecon will be about .7 miles long and will start just a little south of the CFE thermoelectric plant, at Mexicali Street and will end just about 140 feet south of the Huahuatay River. Construction will begin this year.

The malecon will be modeled after the one in Playas de Tijuana, which is very nice, by the way. We will be able to walk or bike it, there will be restrooms, retail stores, bars, restaurants, and parking along the way.

It’s not a taco stand. If, like everyone else,  you thought the stand they were building on the sidewalk of the Oceana plaza in Rosarito was a taco stand, you are as wrong as everyone else. It’s actually the newest effort of the state tourism office to keep our precious tourists well informed. It’s an info booth.

Currently the tourism office has a place inside the Oceana Plaza but it’s kind of hidden in there and most of the time it looks closed although it isn’t.  Bottom line, it’s very hard for tourist to find it. This new kiosk is definitely an upgrade, because it’s on the sidewalk, right there in-your-face.

Navy to watch beaches. The Mexican Navy just announced they will be actively monitoring public beaches in Ensenada over the holidays, on the lookout for accidents. I wonder who in their right mind would go to the beach in this cold?  You can freeze to death! But it looks like some people do, so the Navy will be there for us. The program ends on January 10th so after that you’re on your own.

Baja gets Teleton Center. The Teleton Center finally flung open its doors in Baja. This is a facility to give costly treatments and therapies to kids with disabilities at no cost to them. The centers are funded by the Teleton Foundation which is part of the Televisa company; they are famous for their main TV fundraising event done every year in December.  Teleton is Mex speak for telethon. You know, like Jerry Lewis puts on his teleton every year.

Baja is the 22nd state to have a Teleton Center. In Mexico the Teleton foundation has done an important job helping those with disabilities because most of the treatments  are not available anywhere else to low-income families. Even the national health insurance program doesn’t cover expensive niche diseases that cause horrible handicaps.  Heck, you have to stand in line just to get a wheel chair. That’s a joke.

New adventure park. Cuatro cuatros, the winery/glamping place in El Tigre (on the Ens-Tijuana free road just about three miles from El Causal), just opened a new adventure park called Desert Nest.

Their main attractions are their five zip lines that amount to about two miles total, the longest one being a little more than half a mile long that zips you along at 40 mph while you are dangling at about 260 feet above the ground. Read our article on our next edition for more information about the park. If I survive. Sounds scary but in Mexico a journalist’s job is a scary calling. ,