‘La Escalera Nautica‘ is a plan to develop tourism up and down the Baja coast by by building a ‘ladder’ of marinas, hotels, and tourist sites located within a day’s sail of one another in an effort to boost tourism. Puerto Penasco is listed as a part of this project and stands to receive both infrastructure and marina-related upgrades as part of the effort.
The Escelera Nautica (‘Nautical Ladder’) project is a massive construction and upgrade package, involving full-service marinas, many of which will be constructed from scratch. The majority of the focus is on nautical and maritime improvements with the hopes that the resulting boost in tourist-related dollars will trickle down to the other industries and communities.
The project, first launched in 2001, has since been renamed and retooled. Now referred to as the ‘El Proyecto Mar de Cortes’ – aka The Sea of Cortez Project’, it calls for 28 nautical stops in five states – 11 of which are (supposed) to be running by May 2006. Fonatur, the Mexican tourism development agency behind the project, initially projected that the Nautical Ladder would pull in 50,000 boats and 1 million visitors by 2014 – the vast majority coming from the United States.
The idea is to create a chain – or ‘ladder’ – of well-equipped ports and tourist areas up and down the Baja coast all within a day’s sail of each other. (see: the project’s maps) Figuring this will attract upscale tourism, there is as much focus on the marina sites and their offerings as there is on the marinas themselves.
Hotels, golf courses, restaurants, and other tourist-related infrastructure also play a key part in the project, as the nautical tourism will also draw traditional tourism over time. The project also involves road construction and upgrades to allow for easier boat towing, including cross-peninsula towing. Plans call for upgrades to allow towing across the Baja peninsula from Santa Rosalillita (Pacific coast) to Bahia de los Angeles.
There is also some airport construction and upkeep factored into the project. Apparently if you’re the kind of person who has your own yacht, you are the kind of person who would like to fly into Mexico to pick it up …
Critics of the Nautical Ladder/Proyecto Mar de Cortes project are worried about the environmental impact of the project itself and the resulting uptick in tourism. They also criticize Fonatur and it’s lack of specifics with relation to what is actually being built. Indeed, finding any details on the proposed developments has proven very difficult.
Links of interest
The Mexican tourism agency behind the development of major resorts such as Cancun and Los Cabos is now setting its sights on the sparsely populated Gulf of California region for its next mega-project.