API Puerto Vallarta caters solely to cruise ships and tourists, but manages to make it work – partially due to its relationships with other ports on the cruise ship routes.
By Tom Hranac
As a port that completely relies on tourism, Administración Portuaria Integral de Puerto Vallarta´s business model seems to run contrary to the old saying “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” However, the port has found success in a niche that consists entirely of cruises and the accompanying excursion tours for cruise passengers and other visitors.
API Puerto Vallarta possesses many natural advantages to be a thriving cruise port. Located on the Bay of Banderas on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta enjoys a tropical climate, abundant marine life, numerous beaches and surrounding mountains that provide a beautiful backdrop for a town built with cobblestone streets and traditional Mexican architecture. The city´s inhabitants are also known for being warm and open, with a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry as Puerto Vallarta has been a tourist destination since the 1960s.
However, Miguel Ángel García Beltrán González, director general of API Puerto Vallarta, measures this wealth of assets at the port’s disposal in terms of the opportunities they offer for passengers. For any cruise port to have success and growth, he maintains that “apart from being safe, it must be touristically versatile with high-quality, organized activities available for all ages and interests so that cruise passengers make the most of their short time at port and want to come back.” The diversity of activities offered to passengers before and after they get off the boat at Puerto Vallarta reflect García Beltrán González´s philosophy, which can include anything from extreme sports, jungle hikes and whale watching excursions to food tours, shopping and cultural offerings such as charrería (Mexican rodeo), mariachi and tequila factory tours.
While a wide variety of activities for port visitors contributes to API Puerto Vallarta´s success, García Beltrán González was quick to point out that it forms part of a larger business strategy that encompasses environmental priorities and a coordinated regional marketing plan as well as infrastructure investments to ensure that cruise lines view the port as a profitable destination.