By QueerIAm, GAYPV´s
darling opinion shaper at large
Local businesses have been bemoaning the fact that Puerto Vallarta has been steadily declining in importance as a gay vacation destination since the demise of Latin Fever nearly five years ago.
The causes behind the circuit party's death knoll are various including lack of innovation by the promoters, blatant apathy by local government and a ridiculous feud between the event's organizers and a local club resulting creating a terse social fissure that polarized the community. (Proof that gay does not necessarily mean happy.)
Both the porcine flu scare of 2009, that resulted in many of Mexico's airports and destinations appearing on foreign travelers' no-go lists, combined with the spectacular free-fall of the US economy headed by the once-great banking behemoth Lehman Brother's add a macro socio-economic layer complexity to the staggering local tourism trade blues.
Yet it is perhaps our northern neighbors consumption of what is purported to be some of the world's finest cocaine and marijuana and the resultant war on drugs launched by the former Mexican federal government encouraged and applauded by the previous and current US administrations that may have proved to be the hair that broke the veritable camel's back.
The media frenzy surrounding gruesome beheadings and kidnappings carried out in remote areas of the country far from most sandy beaches by infighting narco gangs and reported around the clock by an eager and sensationalist CNN has turned Mexico into an instantly recognizable global brand around the world.
Yet, despite the unfavorable media coverage, tourism in general and gay tourism in particular are on the rise in Mexico. The contentious election of the photogenic Peña to the Mexican presidency is one of a series of factors that are fueling the much needed boom in tourism and the economy as a whole. Despite the bad press and a series of bad luck events suffered by the country, tourism as a whole has continued to grow year on year since 2010.
While Americans may be not be as eager to pose in their bikini's on Mexico's beaches as a decade ago, posing they are alongside our more reserved Canadian brothers and sisters along with an increasing influx of visitors from the BRIC countries and a small if steady flow from Europe and Australia.
A favorable exchange rate, incredible all inclusive package deals, and the unexpected legalization of gay marriage in the southern state of Quintana Roo (home of the fabled crystalline waters of Cancun and the Mayan Riviera) as well as in Mexico City (we refer here to the legalization of same sex marriage, not the resorts water quality) have resulted in increase of gay tourism south of the Rio Grande.
So why is Vallarta still suffering? We're not, we're recovering, slowly but surely, our LGBTC brothers and sisters are slowly making their way back. The road to vacation destination greatness is cobbled with challenges.
Our aging hotels need to begin investing in infrastructure and focusing on the small but essential details but like providing orthopedic mattresses, fluffy white pillows and linens with high-enough thread counts along side exceptionally attentive service. In order to attract the style conscious innovators that make up the LGBTC community, resorts need to think and style like us. The long over due development of the future 5 star Almar Resort, located on the south shore of the gay beach, gives GayPV hope that Vallarta´s premium gay friendly hotel offering will soon number two, Casa Cupula will finally have prom date.
Our beach clubs woefully neglected for a millennia will need to reinvent themselves following the lead of popular and successful night bars and dance clubs like La Noche and CC Slaughters and newby Club enter.
The aging beach furniture complete with hideously orange sunbrellas wilted by over exposure to the sun at Ritmos Cafe (aka Green Chairs) has seen our sisters in arms desert the gay beach in droves to regroup en masse just up the beach at El Dorado and Swell. These 2 successful beach clubs are a testament that friendly service, quality food and comfortable beach furniture can demand and receive a higher price point from the LGBTC community.
If more local LGBTC businesses begin to invest and look after their demanding gay clients, they just might find their demands turn into unwavering loyalty and a booming trade benefitting everyone from hoteliers to drag cabarets.