Baja Foreign Business Group Ends 2012 with a Bang

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The Baja Foreign Business Group (BFBG) gathered just before the holidays at Mis Amores Restaurant on Marquis de León with an invitation extended to Ruben Reachi Lugo, State Secretary of Tourism, Pedro Aguilar, Municipal Director of Tourism and Agustin Olachea, President of Emprhotur (Hotel Association).
Members of the BFBG have grown increasingly concerned with the economy in the city. With news that La Paz will be losing international air service in April of 2013, the group felt it was essential that government officials discuss future economic development for the capital of BCS.
The BFBG had asked each of the invited guests to come prepared and update the group on the economy of La Paz and the State of BCS in general; the status of international airline transportation into La Paz; City and State tourism projects related to international travelers and future economic developments for La Paz and State.
Neil Shroyer of Marina La Paz discussed the problems with tourism in La Paz.  La Paz never grew up as a tourist destination. The economy grew with pearling and during the 60´s and 70´s, commercial activity, supported by the duty free zone, had its most successful period.  By the 80’s, much of the state welcomed tourism while La Paz carved out its dependence on government.
Although La Paz is not a fun in the sun destination because of the weather, Shroyer feels that La Paz can easily cater to retirees looking for a second home or the niche market of ecotourism.  Unfortunately, La Paz is going through an identity crisis, with residents asking themselves, “Do we want tourism or not?”
Agustin Olachea updated the group on international air service to and from La Paz. Although Alaska Airlines will be leaving La Paz as of April 2013, local tourism departments are in talks with an airline to provide service to and from Los Angeles.  No announcement could be made.
Pablo Armenta, who stepped in for Secretary Reachi, handed out information detailing tourism to La Paz.  According to data, with most hotels booked on an average of two nights, La Paz is clearly a business travel destination and not so much a tourist destination.
Pedro Aguilar reported that La Paz Mayor Esthela Ponce Beltran understands that tourism is very fragile in the city and she is spending time in Mexico City working with the federal government to restructure debt and looking for new money to help make infrastructure improvements in the city.  There are private developments working on projects, which will help activate the economy and he feels business owners just need to be patient with the economic turn around.
The Baja Foreign Business Group was organized by Juli Goff of Se Habla…La Paz and Jonathan and Jill Roldan of Tailhunters International back in 2010 to help foreign business owners in La Paz. During the past few years, BFBG has hosted numerous meetings featuring speakers who have addressed topics ranging from importing/exporting, immigration, police activity and tourism. The meetings are conducted in English and there is always a translator on hand to help with presentations when necessary.
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