Que Pasa in Baja?

BY: OLIVER QUINTERO

We are loved. And trusted! We’re trusted by shrewd North American business tycoons. Seven U.S. based hotels will be built in Tijuana over the next two years, and the number of foreigners living in our state has grown by 4,000 in eight years. About U.S. $1.75 billion is being invested along the border between Tijuana and Otay Mesa.

Our state is home to 87 industrial and business parks and firms in the automotive, electronics, textile, renewable energy and aerospace industries, the latter being among the largest with 87 companies and more than 30,000 employees.

Medical device manufacturing is next with 66 firms and more than 50,000 employees.

Both sectors received a boost last month when federal and state delegations traveled to the Paris Air Show, bringing back news of $142 million in investments. Among them: $40 million by Hutchinson Aerospace in Ensenada, $35 million by Esterline Aerospace in Tijuana and $9 million by the Triumph Group in Mexicali. As well, medical products manufacturer Essilor will invest $40 million in Tijuana.

Something else we have going for us, say officials, is the age and education level of the work force: 66% of the population is under 34 and there are 51 universities graduating 90,000 students a year, of whom 22,000 are engineering majors. Loan programs are also available to established companies to enable them to grow and increase exports of goods and services.

That’s just in our state here, and it all goes on while you lounge around the beach every day. Except for the days you played cards. The state’s Economic Development Secretary says most local people don’t have a clue to what’s happening in Baja California, but he’s not talking about you, because you read the GG and you’re in the know.

Culinary competition alert! The Sabor de Baja (Baja’s Flavor) will take place August 26 at the oceanfront Rosarito Beach hotel, showcasing Baja’s top chefs, hosted by Chef Bo Bendana from MiCasa Supper Club. This is an annual end of summer all-white attire event, that features a culinary competition paired with the finest Mexican wines and craft beer.

Chefs range from luminaries like Diego Hernandez, Martin San Roman and Antonio De Livier to rising stars such as Erick Alcazar, Iker Castillo and Giannina Gavaldon. Each chef will pair his or her dish with a Baja California wine or a regional artisanal beer. The judges will rate each entry not only on how the food, wine or beer tastes, but how well they work together.

Judges this year include Michelin-starred chef Drew Deckman and San Diego City Beat food critic and gourmand Michael Gardiner. The intent of the Sabor de Baja is to promote gastronomy, diversity and tourism within Baja and Rosarito in particular.

Tickets are $65 and include appetizers, some of the best Guadalupe Valley wines, local craft beer and a commemorative wine glass. Tickets can be purchased online via PayPal: Sabordebaja@gmail.com. Tickets are non-refundable and good only for the day of the event, August 26, 2015.

The Rosarito Beach Hotel is offering a special for $199+ tax for two general admission tickets, one night stay at their new Tower, and complimentary parking. Contact for information: sabordebaja@gmail.com, website: http://www.sabordebaja.com/ http://www.rosaritobeachhotel.com/

Reel ’em in! State fishing officials are promoting this year’s sport fishing season saying  this is one of the most important tourism activities in the area. They are expecting to sell about  50,000 permits to fish Baja waters. They didn’t talk about those fisherpeople who don’t buy a permit.

In Mexico, you don’t need a license if you’re fishing from the shore, but if you go out on a boat you will need one that will allow you to catch up to 10 fish (billfish, shark, giant and seabass count as five and shad, dorado, rooster fish or gulf grouper count as two), And you better not get caught catching more than five from the same species.  Sounds like you really have to know your fish, don’t they kinda all look alike?

If you want to know more about fishing in Baja, read Gary Graham’s fish  column every issue and visit this site to learn more about fishing licenses: www.sportfishinginmexico.com. Or hey, just read the front page of this rag, we’ve spelled it all out for you.

Watch what you’re doing!  There have been no less than eight people who experienced a near drowning incident and had to be fished out of the in the La Salina beach area just in this past week alone.  One didn’t make it. A 17 year old teenager from TJ over reached his capabilities.  The local papers put some of the blame on the family because they were drinking  and not paying attention to the youngster. But you know how papers are: They’ll say anything to sell papers. But not us, we give it away!

An American camping on Clam Beach near the drowning, told this ace reporter that a surfer from California rescued four kids from a group drowning, a clam diver rescued one more, and the Mexican Navy hauled another two people out.  You will note that nobody was rescued by lifeguards, because there are no lifeguards in that area. 

Tourists cross for free. The committee for tourism and conventions (COTUCO) of Tijuana called a press conference to make sure everyone knows that Mexico is not charging tourists any entry money if they’re here less than a week.  Now they’re getting the word out? We told you all about it four months ago, advising everyone to calm down, it’s not so bad and there are loop holes you can drive a truck through.  Now the people from COTUCO are stirring the pot again, making people think there’s some new procedure when there isn’t.

Still breaking records. We just registered our biggest tourism rates since 2007, with 100% occupancy on the weekend for Rosarito and Ensenada, 87% for TJ and even 90% for San Quintin. Tourism is picking up very well. We see it ourselves as we’re out and about talking to everyone. There were people milling around everywhere,  Rosarito Beach Hotel saying even their tower was filling up,  and Las Rocas was completely booked on a Monday.  People! We’re still just one beheading away from our tourism sector going right back into the crapper, so let’s not get complacent and cocky.  We were suffering 15% rates occupancy rates just a few years ago when we were going through our “times of trouble”.

The boof keeps giving. Tourists, that is. State officials estimate La Bufadora blow hole just south of Ensenada gets around 600,000 lookie loos every year, making it the most visited natural attraction in our state. Tourism offices are promoting the destination to nationals because most of the Boof visitors are foreigners. Like you, Whitey.

They also need to get the squatter situation handled, but that’s not going to happen any time soon because Mexican squatter rights are so generous, and the courts are so corrupt/screwed up. All those trinket booths out there are squatting on ejido land. Ejidos are similar to Indian reservations in the U.S.

No good will come in bringing people to the Boof just to be greeted by angry people tossing rocks, blocking the road, and waving machetes around because they want their land back.

Right now there is $4 million earmarked to improve the area of the Boof, but it can’t be spent because of the land dispute. Just last week Gilberto Hirata, mayor of Ensenada, said his team is revising the plan to just prettying up the federal land in order to avoid dealing with the land dispute.

White shark season begins. If you are one of those people who dream of swimming in a cage with lots of huge white shark around rubber necking you, this is for you.

Semarnat, the Mexican environmental protection agency, just started training operators for white shark sightseeing tours in the Guadalupe Island area. Since 2005 Guadalupe Island was declared as a natural protected area which puts a lot of restraints on exploiting the natural resources there. The white shark is a threatened marine species so efforts are being made not to disrupt the ones who are left with tours. The Guadalupe Island is the farthest away piece of land that is still in Mexican waters.

Riverside does Ensenada. William “Rusty” Bailey, mayor of Riverside, and his entourage visited Ensenada in order to get to know what’s going on over here and try to strengthen the relationship between the two cities. They were taken to see the Totoaba fish farms at UABC. They have been  working an endangered fish species that UABC has been producing for 20 years now in order to regulate population numbers. They also explored other aquaculture farming projects in Ensenada.

After that Rusty met with the chamber of fishing industries of Baja to explore ways in which they could work together. It was concluded that using the Riverside airport, local fish producers could export to Asia, saving a lot on transportation costs.

Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and National City do Rosarito. And you thought Ensenada was working towards international cooperation! It turns out that Rosarito was visited not by one, but three mayors from these cities. It was a friendly visit where our mayor, Silvano Abarca, could explain to them what projects are in progress in Rosarito and hear feedback from them.

 Ron Morrison from National City said it is very important for Rosarito to take advantage of its more than 10 miles of beaches with such projects as the malecon for Rosarito. Mary Casillas from Chula Vista said she felt Rosarito was focusing on improving its urban image and attracting more investment on the beaches, which will generate more tourism. Serge Dedina, mayor of Imperial Beach, said he was ready to sign an agreement of friendship and collaboration with Rosarito in order to generate a cultural, economic, sports and tourist exchange between the two cities.   ,