January 31, 2003

Baja California’s development plan for 2003

By Mariana Martinez

Tuesday, January 28 - The Department for Economic Development, Department of Tourism and Work and Social Welfare Department, gathered this morning to present their State Development plan for 2003.

Mr. Sergio Tagliapietra Nassari, in charge of Industrial Development (part of the Department of economic development), started the presentation by pointing out their efforts to better Baja California’s competitiveness, and the need to concentrate on what is more lucrative and stop doing the rest.

In order to make that decision they need to evaluate straights in the business and use the geographic advantage they have over their major competitor, China.

In order to keep growing, Baja California has to stop selling “cheap hand labor” – the way it was done until now-and start selling manufacturing, with more skilled workers, and then prepare them in order to have specialized people, capable of working in the development and technological research field.

The promotion of new products and services in the area has to be complemented by a protection of resources and businesses already established, and knowledge of the areas capability.

It has been contemplated to promote the area for liquid propane, water, electricity, telecommunications and housing projects, in order to have an annual investment of 1,300 million dollars and 20,000 new jobs all over the state.

Work and Social elfare Department representative, Rafael Ayala Lopez presented his part of the project, that consists mainly on the creation of unemployment insurance that would give 150 dlls. a month to those who recently lost their job, and help place them in a new one, and “Safe Company” a plan to better the safety and hygiene conditions, achieving better working environment and lower risk factor for the workers and a lower insurance payment for the company.

People: the great investment.

Department of Tourism representative, Alejandro Moreno Medina reminded the audience how tourism is vital to Baja California’s economy-and a rising industry in the rest of Mexico- as the state’s priority is the tourist friendly signposting in all cities. In the past the lack of proper signs has been a great complication for visitors.

Another big problem is the walking access to the city of Tijuana, up until now, the corridor has been a dirty path, full of street vendors, trash and solicitors. The plan to “face lift” that part of plan has been in the state’s congress for some time now, and is supposed to come true some time soon, especially the walk in access, where most tourist enter Tijuana.

A similar “face lift” for Rosarito is also in the plan, to make it seem even more of a “magical little town” it has always been for tourists.

An even bigger project is the 2.3 million dollar investment the tourism Department is spending on marine infrastructure throughout the beach area, to offer visitors aquatic sports, sport fishing, snorkeling and increase the number of visitors to other attractions, such as grey-whale watching during the first months of the year.

In a global since, the promotion of the state has a lot less to do with great buildings of wild night life and a lot more to do with the state’s unique natural resources and great people.

The film industry has also become a great source of income and employment in the area, and just this year, the profits expect to be over nine million dollars.

One of the biggest problems to invite tourism around the area is the practice of selling counter fit or low quality products to tourists; that makes the buyer untrusting and the sales scarce. The National Commerce Chamber in Baja California has issued a certificate, in order to help identify those opposed to bad ethic sell. The kind of family owned and raised businesses that sell real silver and real Cuban cigars all around the state.

The wine walk.

One of the more ambitious plan’s for 2003 is the beginning of the Wine Walk, that looks to make the Guadalupe Valley more accessible and attractive.

Today, the Ensenada-Guadalupe Valley area, blessed by Mediterranean whether, has been the most important wine making zones in Mexico, more than 90% of Mexican wine comes from the area.

From here, more than 3 million boxes of wine go to other countries, although most of the production is distributed around the country.

Just in Baja California, more than 9 million boxes of wine were sold last year, so it is not hard to imagine what this zone could do for Baja California with the right infrastructure and development.

As an example of international success in the wine industry we have Chile, a country that in the last ten years has gained great respect throughout America and Europe.

As the first step to the consolidation of the Wine Walk, an area has to be deliniated as a corridor, creating easy access and tourist friendly signage is very important. The area will then be we promoted by creating music, theater and dance events; encouraging hotel development and promoting their all ready great food, that most Baja Californians already know and enjoy.

By creating more commerce, the Tourism Department seeks the areas growth and better quality in wines as well as greater job opportunities.

The target market for the Wine Walk is of course the thousands of Americans crossing by foot, car, bus or cruise to the port of Ensenada, but also, the millions of people that visit Baja California for other reasons, and even people from this state looking for something fun to do outside the usual sites.

One of the problems to sell Mexican wine in the past is the restriction, which exists only in California, for Americans to bring back only one bottle of liquor to the United States, per person. Not a lot of people know it, but this law does not apply when tourists come here in public transportation or tour buses, so they could take home a box of premium quality Mexican wine if they wanted to.

The Wine Walk is under design right now, and local authorities are trying to reach an agreement with Californian legislators to change the “one bottle” restriction.

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