Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Timeshare Is Big And Booming

Participating in the world of timeshare ownership has certainly taught me how big the world is and how many wonderful destinations are out there to discover. As president of ARDA, even though I travel so much, there are still hundreds of timeshare resort destinations I look forward to visiting one day. And where I realize that, in my current professional role, perhaps I’m not supposed to have a favorite destination, I must admit that I do have a particular soft spot for one great area: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I love it there!

The people, the weather, the beaches, the mountains, the food, and just the overall ambiance—it all complements the welcoming nature of the culture. I’ve been timesharing annually in Mexico for the past 20 years, and I never tire of it. That is why I am so pleased that the feature of this special convention issue of Developments spotlights its tourism development.

The lines have crossed in the most positive way for Americans wishing to visit Mexico and developers wanting to meet that demand. And, Americans visiting Mexico do buy timeshares and fractionals while they are there! The post-September 11th times have in some ways made the world from the tourism perspective seem smaller, in terms of destinations that Americans feel comfortable visiting in the midst of terrorist threats and global political uncertainties.

But Mexico offers a different pattern, a new hope for the American tourist. In fact, now more than ever, tourism grows strong for the following reasons: its geographic proximity, the strength of the U.S. dollar in this hemisphere, a sense of personal security, and the vast improvement in Mexican tourism infrastructure. Many of these same reasons are also true of the tourist outlook for the Caribbean and Central America, areas that have also grown their cache of timeshare destinations over the past few years.

All of this good fortune for Mexican timeshare resort development didn’t just happen by accident, however. It took a well thoughtout, executed plan. The work of FONATUR, Mexico’s impressive federal government partnership, has been instrumental in creating opportunities for the private sector to develop because of the Mexican government’s understanding and funding of infrastructure needs, tourism zones, resources, and promotion.

Destinations like Cabo San Lucas and Cancun are now household names that carry major tourism brand-equity weight in the American traveling public’s mind. This was not the case just 10 years ago— Cancun and Cabo have experienced planned smart growth because of FONATUR’s role (with the Mexican government), as well as the investment of good developers and a real commitment by Mexico to create destinations attractive to Americans with supportive services for developers. Future household name destinations are being born in the Sea of Cortez for the very same reasons. Actually, in my humble opinion, the U.S. government would benefit from having an organization like FONATUR to help create tourism infrastructure and development opportunities in the United States.

There is another factor that bears a positive impact on tourism in Mexico, as well as on tourism at-large and the timesharen industry. This year, the first group of baby boomers turns 60, which is great news for timeshare, fractional, and second- home development. People reaching their 50’s and 60’s, as they begin to transition into retirement, have a natural desire for vacation homes that include alternatives like timeshare and fractionals. These healthy affluent baby boomers have a pent-up wanderlust that needs channeling, after 30-40 years of denying the desire to see the world because of busy careers, family life, and financial restraints. Now these boomers want to experience the world, and Mexico is high on the list.

I recently attended a tourism summit, where I heard a respected economist discussing realities for the future of travel and tourism. He touched upon the fear that we have entered a period of flattening (or worse) of the recent exuberant housing price growth, which might make Americans feel less wealthy. He noted that one segment of the housing market, however, will be insulated from this fear because of the demographics of the retiring baby boomers—the vacation home segment and their alternatives, including timeshare and fractionals.

Mexico will benefit directly from this timeshare phenomena of American boomers (many very affluent), who are retiring with a desire to travel and experience resort living for the first time.

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