Originally published December 5, 2012 at 11:30 a.m., updated December 5, 2012 at 4:20 p.m.
Juan Tintos Funcke, Secretary, Baja Tourism
Jill Replogle, KPBS Fronteras Desk reporter
Baja California officials are hoping this holiday season revives an old tradition among San Diegans -- heading south. Tijuana and Rosarito Beach used to be prime destinations for holiday shopping and celebrating, but then came the drug cartel war, and American tourism slowed to a trickle. Now, Mexican officials say Baja is bounding back with 2012 being the best tourist season in five years.
The secretary of Baja tourism, Juan Tintos Funcke, told KPBS 2007 to 2009 were difficult years for tourism.
"But fortunately since 2011 and especially this year, we've seen a recuperation, a reactivation in tourism," he said. "And American tourists are starting to come back, and not only the Hispanics but the Anglo also."
He said Ensenada is the number one cruise ship destination in Mexico, and the increase in arrivals have been mostly Americans.
"So there is still that aspect of any tourist destination where you have to take certain precautions where you visit any tourist destination in Mexico or abroad," he said. "But we think the perception and the image with major events like having famous people come to Baja and letting them talk about Baja has really helped us."