Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, a refuge for snowbirds
For decades, thousands of the so-called North American “snowbirds” have spent the winter in Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, thus contributing to the tourist economy of this Pacific region.
The month of November begins and with it also begins the “high season” in this region of the Mexican Pacific. I want to tell you that this is one of the months that I enjoy the most. In addition to the Mexican festivities, which are very showy, this month the humpback whales begin to arrive, one of the greatest natural attractions of Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit. November is also chosen by North American citizens to travel to Mexico and reside here during the winter season. These are the “snowbirds”, so called because, like migratory birds, they travel in search of more benign climates when the cold is at its peak in countries like Canada and the United States.
This year, especially, is going to be an important return to Mexico after two years of uncertainty due to the pandemic. The vast majority of north Americans had to stay home due to health restrictions, so it will not be until this winter that many of them will travel to our tourist destinations again.
According to Datatur, every year thousands of foreign temporary residents come and occupy condominiums, apartments or houses, either for rent or their own, from Puerto Vallarta and surrounding towns, to the Riviera Nayarit and its micro-destinations. In Puerto Vallarta they occupy traditional neighborhoods such as “Gringo Gulch” and Conchas Chinas, and other more modern ones such as the Romantic Zone, Marina Vallarta and Versalles. On the Nayarit side, it is common to see them in towns such as Bucerías, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Sayulita, San Pancho and Lo de Marcos, as well as Rincón de Guayabitos, Chacala and even San Blas.
Their presence does not go unnoticed since they imprint a special dynamism on the communities in which they reside, which benefit from their visit. In Bucerías and Sayulita they integrate with the locals and promote community benefit projects. San Pancho, known as “the model town”, also receives a significant number of residents who get involved and support cultural and environmental programs.
The “snowbirds” in general are pensioners with greater spending capacity (three times higher than that of the hotel tourist) and fewer obligations, so they buy groceries with the locals, go to “farmers markets” to stock up and like to visit other nearby towns to the towns where they reside either to have fun, eat or shop.
On the other hand, this relationship is not only beneficial for Mexico and its tourist destinations, it also benefits residents. According to the Canadian Snowbirds Association (CSA) the cost of living in this country is cheaper than in Canada, in addition to the fact that Canadian citizens do not have to spend on heating or winter clothing. On the other hand, the same group affirms that in Mexico there are currently Canadians who live without luxuries with 1,500 dollars a month, while others reside in private subdivisions and spend three or four times more.
Other advantages that Mexico offers for these visitors are the affordable prices of health services. Most of them are elderly people, who due to climate issues are not favorable for them to be in their countries; many of them suffer from some illness, so they take advantage of their stay to receive medical treatment in some of the specialized clinics in the region.
It is, therefore, a type of tourism that provides many benefits, because they are visitors who come to consume and invest, and who even help to generate jobs, both in the service sector and in construction and even in real estate. And for the “snow birds”, Mexico is a refuge where they not only shelter from the cold, but it has also become their second home. A place where, like migratory birds, they will always be welcome.
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