I decided do conduct an extremely detailed and scientific survey of more than a handful of locals on their perception of the top reason Baja bars tourists.
Although hotels are filling, restaurants are busier and streets are brimming with traffic this Easter week(“Semana Santa”), tourism throughout the year is still weak.
My survey during the month of March,was mostly among the gringo community here. I also caught a decent sampling of Mexicano business owners to participate. A smaller sampling of tourists got caught in my net.
Locals and ex-pats tended to blame the border wait, the economy and the overall tourist interface. Most residents here dismiss the USA perception about crime. We are much different than those who get their world view from the mainstream media.
When pressed on how many friends and relatives would not visit because of the drug war/crime/police corruption, locals admitted that it was an issue. I have friends who built vacation homes to share with their families only to find their families unwilling to visit due to the threat of violence.
Most U.S. families have less discretionary incomes vs. 5 years ago. So, they are being more picky about the overall value of their vacations. Baja is not the value it once was. And $4/gallon gasoline, likely moving to $5 is another hurdle.
The police corruption seems to be lightening up, but, there is always a story or two published each week to let you know that it still exists.
Visa requirements can change according to the clerk/officer, day and time. Very Mexican. An internet search on “ensenada visa requirement” will produce several different opinions and requirements.
Finding an “Info Booth” in Tijuana, Rosarito or Ensenada is not easy. Ensenada has 2 info offices at the entry to the city, but, few see them. First time visitors to Ensenada see dozens of taco pimps waving their menus to encourage money spending.
Tijuana? That entrance is the poster child of “get me the heck outta here, PRONTO!”.
The U.S. passport requirement killed off what was left of any spring-breaker college kids. Most had already been eliminated due to the economy. Fewer drunken 19 year-old gringos breaking things, littering and pissing in the streets might be an improvement.
Restaurant prices here in the tourist area are on a level with the U.S., which surprises many. You have to do some homework to find the local bargains in Ensenada on food. There are plenty of good food values, but, they are hidden from tourists.
Fishing likely will never return to what it was 30 years ago. Some fishing tourists complain of gill netting that ruins the potential catch. Dunno.
I discount the effect of advertised specials, ez visa requirements, tourist friendly chamber of commerce videos and warm stories hit the internet. The old saying, “they won’t hear the sermon, if you can’t get them into the church” applies here.
2 of 3 ain’t coming due to the crime/drug war and that bladder-busting Customs and Border Protection line that puts such a nice “bow” at the end of your vacation.