Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The 30th annual bike ride from Rosarito to Ensenada will roll on this year. An injection of cash from the state of Baja California will allow the tradition to continue.
Baja California's dwindling number of U.S. tourists nearly forced the bike ride's organizers to put the brakes on the event last year. In addition, last year the cities of Rosarito and Ensenada taxed the organizers for each rider, which pumped up the event's cost.
This year, the cities have suspended the tax, and Baja California and Mexico's tourism boards are spending $150,000 on the ride.
Gary Foster is the president of Bicycling West that helps put on the event. He says the money has put air in the event's tires. "Its all being spent on marketing and promotions in the United States and northern Baja market. And that is basically what's making the difference in us being able to continue the ride," he says.
Baja California tourism officials are banking on the idea the event will also help keep the state's tourism economy cruising along.
Ives Lelevier is Baja California's Deputy Secretary of Tourism. He says last year was abysmal. But he says people are slowly making their way back. He estimates the 5,000 riders Foster expects could generate between $3 million and $6 million in economic activity for the state. "It is an excellent return and that's one of the reasons we are committed to having this event for the next, hopefully 30 or 40 years."
The bike ride is also part of a broader strategy to bring tourists back to Baja California by hosting large events. The head of Rosarito's Convention and Visitors Bureau says people feel safer in large numbers and busing tourists in means they avoid long border waits.
The Rosarito Ensenada ride sets off from the Rosarito Beach Hotel on September 26.