Sunday, May 17, 2015

A look back on Season Seven

Although I expect to be here in Loreto Bay for another month or so, this season is winding down
with  many of the winter residents already gone and most of the remainder planning on heading north in the next few weeks.  There are, of course, a small but growing number of people, who consider Loreto Bay to be their year-round home, in addition to the dozens of others who work here 12 months of the year doing construction and maintenance and the other jobs that are necessary to keep our community functioning.

But since the normally busy pace of life here has noticeably slowed down, I will be suspending the Living Loreto Blog for the summer as of this posting, due in part to the absence of activities for me to write about.  So this is my opportunity to reflect on this past Season and some of the things that have happened to make it one of the best ever in the history of our community.

One aspect that I have not written about previously is Loreto’s growing reputation as a Cruise Ship destination.  This past Season we were visited by at least 15 Cruise ships between October and April – a record number for Loreto, with two ships alternating from the Princess Line as well as several visits from a Holland America ship.  While this has been an economic boost for the town, with hundreds of passengers spending time and money ashore during their daytime stopover here, I was interested to learn that in response to a passenger survey conducted by Princess, Loreto was chosen by over 90% of the passengers as their favorite destination for the ships that stopped here.

While that sort of response is the source of considerable pride amongst Loretanos, it is also an important confirmation of the appeal that this place has for other travelers – and it will no doubt have a bearing on decisions about the numbers of cruise ships that will stop here in the future, both from the Princess Line as well as others.  Having thousands of Cruise Ship passengers visiting Loreto and leaving with a positive first impression will also have an important future impact on Loreto’s reputation as a tourist destination.  It is not hard to imagine that there will be numbers of these visitors that will decide, on the strength of their positive first impression, to return here for a longer stay at one of the Hotels or Resorts – or perhaps here in Loreto Bay.  

While I am on the subject about tourism and transportation, certainly one of the biggest stories this past Season has been the trial schedule of the first new North American Airline to fly into Loreto since the economic downturn of ’08 – ’09.  As regular readers will be familiar (having written about it several times on these pages) Westjet is wrapping up its 3 1/2 month trial schedule of weekly direct flights from Calgary in western Canada to Loreto. 

While there are still a couple of round trip flights remaining before the end this month, and there has not been an official announcement yet from the Airline, I have it on good authority that Westjet is planning a full Season of service to Loreto starting again this November and running through to the end of May next year.  Furthermore, I have also heard that they are planning TWO flights a week next Season, although I do not know where the second flight will originate from, I understand that their Fall Schedule will become official early this summer.  I have also heard that Alaska Airlines has plans for increased service to Loreto next Season, with the rumor that they will be commencing service to Loreto from San Diego as well as Los Angeles, although again this information is not from an official source.

Based on this speculation, I think it is reasonable to assume that we will enjoy improved air access
next Season with the impact being that greater numbers of people will be able to travel here more easily, and possibly at lower cost, which in turn will increase occupancy levels for rental accommodation and eventually the rates charged for that accommodation.  This increase in tourism will have many positive spinoffs in the overall economy of the town of Loreto improving profits for existing businesses and providing the incentive for new businesses and services to start, both of which will improve employment prospect for a growing number of Loretanos. 

As I indulge in some positive speculation about the immediate future of Loreto, I should qualify that many of us who spend time here have come to understand that without rumors we would have little or no news at all!  So, while some of my speculations could be considered as wishful thinking, there is some substance to my optimism – specifically, my Real Estate sales this Season have been more than double my best year so far, in the 7 Seasons that I have been doing this!

For many years I have held the belief that a positive future for Loreto was a question of WHEN and not IF, and so in that context, I can say with a high degree of confidence, that I believe the “when” is a lot closer now than it has been at any time since the departure of the original Developer, and the subsequent economic uncertainty that followed.  Like so many others who have found their way here and have chosen to make Loreto their home, I know that this is a special place and I believe that we are at the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the long history of this place “where the Mountains come to swim”.

And so another Season comes to an end, and as we reflect on the highlights and memories that make up our experience here, I for one, look forward to the continuation of the many positive trends that appear to be aligning toward an even brighter future for those of us lucky enough to be “Living Loreto”!