In western Mexico, just opposite the bottom end of Baja California, the state of Sinaloa sits graciously on the Sea of Cortez. For years, thousands of North Americans have flocked to Mazatlan
, the state’s most popular tourist resort, in search of sun and sand, and as an added bonus have been met with delicious food and warm hospitality.
Visitors to Mazatlan inevitably fall in love with the region’s charming historic center, its colorful buildings, lovely beaches, and the slow pace of life that invites one to stop and smell the freshly made tortillas.
Those seeking a more cultural experience can also get their fill at the city’s numerous museums and theaters, which provide interesting activities all year round for tourists and locals alike.
“Playa Espiritu will be Sinaloa’s tourism detonator, in other words, what Cancun was 35 years ago.”
Secretary of Tourism for Sinaloa
Tourism is big business in Sinaloa, contributing more than 12% to the state’s GDP. The sector is of enormous importance, supporting more than just hotels, taxis and travel agencies, as Oralia Rice, Secretary of Tourism for Sinaloa, explains. “Often, tourism represents much more than what you read from the figures, as in reality there are infinite services and industries that revolve around tourism, yet they are not counted. When tourism is doing well, the population is doing well, because tourism spreads more evenly and permeates society much more thoroughly than other industries,” adds Ms. Rice.
If the sector was already thriving in Sinaloa, it is now on the verge of exploding with a new project under construction about 60 miles south of Mazatlan that is being hailed as the ‘New Cancun.’ According to Ms. Rice, “Playa Espiritu will be Sinaloa’s tourism detonator, in other words, what Cancun was 35 years ago. This project – which will have 40,000 hotel rooms, double the number that Sinaloa currently has – will be the most important tourism destination in Mexico.”
Investment in Playa Espiritu is huge, as well: US$385 million will be injected over the next decade in what will be the first sustainable Fully Planned Center (CIP in Spanish), using solar and wind energy. Should all go well, the investment will be worth every centavo. “It is estimated that every peso of federal investment will bring in 13 pesos,” says Ms. Rice.
Not far from Playa Espiritu, which is in the Teacapan area, there is an archeological phenomenon: a three-storey high pyramid of shells, constructed some 4,000 years ago from 300 million shells.
Elsewhere in Sinaloa, visitors can enjoy Las Labradas, hundreds of petroglyphs up to 1,500 years old on the beach around 70 miles northwest of Mazatlan; the magnificent Sea of Cortez, which Jacques Cousteau dubbed ‘the world’s aquarium’, and the islands, both declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the Magical Towns of Cosala and El Fuerte (birthplace of El Zorro); the world’s highest cable-stayed bridge, the Baluarte Bridge, which was inaugurated in January; and the terminus of the Chepe, the train that makes its way through the spectacular Copper Canyon en route to Chihuahua.
“And of course we have to talk about our food, which is undoubtedly one of the biggest attractions we have for visitors. We have delicious cuisine! And nobody can leave Sinaloa without trying our famous shellfish,” boasts Ms. Rice.