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Los Cabos recently concluded its 13th Annual Los Cabos VIP Summit, which was held from Nov. 11-13 at the Los Cabos International Convention Center.
The event brought together 350 suppliers, hoteliers, media and travel advisors for more than 1,000 meetings, three dinner events and morning content including a keynote presentation and a panel. This year, 15 countries participated including China, Russia, Australia, Brazil, Colombia and Costa Rica, among many others.
The event’s host was Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of Los Cabos Tourism Board. During his opening address, Esponda explained that the destination has overcome big challenges — such as the perceived security issues of last year and the dissolution of the Mexican Tourism Board.
Among the destination’s successes was the creation of a private trust, which has allowed Los Cabos to support cooperative marketing, branding initiatives and the creation of a Los Angeles-based tourism office and staff.
The destination is also working on attracting European travelers to Los Cabos thanks to a brand-new direct flight from London to Los Cabos.
“Many positive things will happen in 2020, but it won’t be easy,” Esponda said.
The first morning of the event began with a panel featuring journalists from Travel Weekly, The Travel Channel and Skift. (Full disclosure: I moderated the panel on behalf of TravelAge West.) The discussion focused on top travel trends to know for 2020, including hotel design and technology, multigenerational travel, immersive experiences, crisis communication, climate change and the evolution of sustainable travel.
Sustainability was the unofficial trend of the event, which was held just a few days after Baja California Sur — the state that includes Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz — announced its new sustainability fund. The initiation of the Fund for a Sustainable Baja California Sur follows Los Cabos’ recent ban of plastics including bags and straws, and is in line with the destination’s efforts to limit cruise traffic, building height, guestroom count per hotel and more.
The fund was initially and mistakenly reported as a mandatory tax, though the $18 contribution is entirely voluntary. Money raised will be used to support the local community and tourism infrastructure, though specific details have yet to be announced. The project is meant to contribute to the sustainability of the state as a tourism destination.
The fund was warmly received by the event’s keynote speaker, Maria Claudia Lacouture, executive director of The Colombian-American Chamber of Commerce and former minister of commerce, industry, and tourism of the Republic of Colombia. Drawing from her new book, “Turismo Sostenible,” Lacouture emphasized that sustainability is not just related to environment, and that sustainable travel requires participation from both the private and public sectors.
“I admire what Los Cabos has done for sustainability,” she said. “The fund to support the process of sustainability is some of what has to be done.”
She recommended that Los Cabos educate locals and tourists on how the funds will be applied.
“Tourists are more educated regarding sustainability and know that they have to provide and support [destinations], but they are also educated in requesting results,” she said.
In addition to educational content and meetings, the Los Cabos VIP Summit hosted several events that spotlighted Los Cabos’ diversity as a destination. The opening reception was held at Garza Blanca Resort & Spa Los Cabos, one of several new upscale hotels that recently opened in the destination. (Nobu Los Cabos’ grand opening was held on Nov. 13. Other new and much-awaited hotels include Zadun, The Ritz-Carlton Reserve; Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas; and Hard Rock Hotels Los Cabos.)
The second night’s event was held in the city square of San Jose del Cabo and highlighted the destination’s culture and food. Set up like a food festival opposite the San Jose del Cabo Church, the reception featured local entertainment and options from excellent Los Cabos restaurants including Los Tres Gallos, a romantic Cabo San Lucas restaurant that will open a second location in San Jose del Cabo during high season.
The final celebration was held at Sunset Monalisa, an upscale restaurant beloved for its alfresco Mediterranean dining and direct views of El Arco, the destination’s iconic rock formation. Guests also had the option to end the night at Coco Bongo, a nightclub known for its Cirque du Soleil-like performances.
The DetailsLos Cabos Tourism Boardwww.visitloscabos.travel