The Puerto Peñasco Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCV) celebrates its 19th year this September in promoting this destination both nationally and internationally. This has greatly contributed to positioning Puerto Peñasco as the most important tourism spot in northwestern Mexico.
Created on the national stage at the beginning of 2003, this office was developed as an agency to promote tourist destinations and their benefits. This initially depended on a mixed operational fund, which included resources from private initiative supported with federal funds.
Subsequently, in Puerto Peñasco a 2% hotel tax was created, which the municipal administrations would hold onto and return to the OCV for media promotion in Arizona, California, the regions of Baja California and Sonora. This primarily promoted area hotels, trailer parks, and the city’s first condominium resorts.
By 2010, it was determined the tax paid by the hotel sector be returned through the State government to optimize collections. This also aimed to strengthen promotion within national and international media as to Puerto Peñasco’s growing hotel infrastructure, as well as its beauty and natural attractions. This was also true for other tourism destinations with local Convention and Visitors Bureaus.
In addition to promotion, the Puerto Peñasco OCV began to reinforce events to project this corner on the Sea of Cortez even more so as an ideal spot to visit. At the time, these events included the Rocky Point Rally, Jazz Festival, Shrimp Festival, and the Taste of Peñasco, along with an Annual Fishing Tournament, among others.
This strengthened office is regulated by an administrative board, which provides meaningful trust that resources are applied appropriately in promoting tourism to this destination in Sonora. The administrative board is made up of hotel/lodging representatives who review and authorize media plans and strategies to promote Puerto Peñasco, detailed Oscar Palacio Soto, representative of Playa Bonita Resorts and who served as the first board president of the local OCV.
Palacio adds, “just a few years after it started operating, the Puerto Peñasco Convention and Visitors Bureau soon became the state agency to receive the most resources from the hotel tax, surpassing even Hermosillo, Sonora, population of which was already 1 million, in comparison to Puerto Peñasco’s 65,000. Nevertheless, Peñasco offered a solid and growing hotel infrastructure with more condominium resorts coming on board.”
In its next stage, the Puerto Peñasco OCV was led by Héctor Vázquez del Mercado Martínez, representative from the Las Palomas Beach & Golf Resort. The agency consolidated its powerful promotional strategies in Arizona and southern California, as well as Chihuahua and Baja California through digital campaigns aimed at more specific segments and seasons. This included promotional campaigns for the summer as well as winter to attract visitors during these periods of lower tourism influx.
The Puerto Peñasco OCV began to have a greater presence at international promotional events, with Puerto Peñasco and the Sea of Cortez already a recognized spot on Mexico’s map.
“The most satisfying thing was to work with the entire industry and promote the destination and all its beauty, and not just the hotels but rather all the activities one can do here,” emphasized Héctor Vázquez del Mercado Martínez.
The OCV and its direct participation in reviving tourism after the Pandemic
Following the crisis felt in 2009, as a promotional body the OCV faced new challenges such as the period during the pandemic when the city was basically shut down. This led to a considerable drop in tourism, therefore the office launched strategies to revive this segment. The OCV staff themselves were on the front-line, set up at the entry filter once visitors were allowed back into town.
Along with promoting tourism to the area, the “Safe Point” campaign was launched to ensure local hotel and restaurant industries adhered to strict protocols to receive and care for clients. This measure was highly lauded and replicated in other tourist spots.
The local OCV has sustained important promotional campaigns while extending into new markets and projecting Puerto Peñasco as a beach destination not just for weekend tourism, but for a demanding family-centered market looking to explore new activities. This spans from ecotourism, to a “beach office”, romantic destinations for weddings, artistic and athletic events, as well as retirement tourism.
Currently the Puerto Peñasco OCV board is presided over by Erika Curiel, representative of CASAGO, who has the complete support of the board as well as that of the operational and specialized staff of the OCV. Under OCV Director Liz Ibarra, Sara Lilia Cárdenas in marketing, and Camila Domínguez as promotional and administrative assistant, there is a dynamic and active team that continues to innovate through actions and strategies to best promote this privileged corner of the Sea of Cortez.
As a promotional office, the OCV seeks to highlight all the virtues and natural beauties of the area. These virtues include Puerto Peñasco’s privileged location between the desert and sea, proximity to the Pinacate Biosphere Reserve, great cuisine, and tremendous hotel offerings. There are now over 7000 rooms for visitors who are looking for a spot to relax, good tourist infrastructure, ample championship level sports venues, golf courses, conferences and conventions, gastronomy, seaside activities, good weather, as well as the spectacular sunsets that only Puerto Peñasco can offer.