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Mexico Looks To Golf For A Tourism Boom

By Staff
Puerto Los Cabos Golf Club - Nicklaus Signature Course
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A view of the Nicklaus Signature Course at Puerto Los Cabos Golf Club in Mexico. (Courtesy of Puerto Los Cabos G.C.)

The stakes are high. Mexico's $4 billion tourism industry is about as important as manufacturing or oil as a source of hard currency. Its a national industry which employs about 630,000 people, most of them in poor, rural areas. And the tourist is a moving target, according to Jacques Rogozinski, head of the government tourism development fund, known as Fonatur, and "Mexico has been shooting at this target with a shotgun instead of a rifle. We are now in an era of niche markets."

One major niche for the future of Mexico's huge stake in tourism is golf resort development. According to Rogozinski, the government would rather finance a seaside golf course project in Baja California than a mega-project like Cancun. "We are not going to put one more cent into those kind of {Cancun-style} projects," Rogozinski affirms.

So, over the next several years, golfers can expect to see more projects popping up in Mexico like the ones California-based real estate magnate Don Koll is developing.

The two projects Koll is building his Mexico reputation on, and Mexico's future in golf, are Palmilla and Cabo del Sol, upscale residential resort projects which feature true championship golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf and other top names, and include all the amenities golfers would find in places like Palm Springs or Scottsdale.

The big difference between Koll's Los Cabos projects and the US desert projects is that Koll's offers prime oceanfront locations and year-round mild weather.

"You can buy an oceanfront home or lot with a golf course view at one of our projects for less than half of what it would cost in Southern California," stated Julie Schneider, Director of Communications for Koll International. "Plus, you'll be able to play golf just about every day of the year. Its just a two hour hop by jet from LA, and you're in a literal golfer's paradise."

Other sites for future golf course development in Mexico include Guaymas, which is located on the eastern shore of the Sea of Cortez, Hidalgo, located one hour north of Mexico City, Quintana Roo, on an 81-mile stretch of land south of the Sian Ka'an reserve and north of Belize, and Huatulco. The Nicklaus group currently has more courses under development in Puerto Vallarta and Cuernevaca.

This trend towards targeting a high-end, sophisticated tourist is a deviation from years past, when Mexico positioned itself as a bargain destination. Now, Mexico has realized that golfers are tourists who spend money, want high-quality services and hotels, and are willing to pay for it.

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