Mexico’s Next Big Thing: The Sea of Cortez Nautical Ladder
The Sea of Cortes Nautical Ladder is a mega-project originally designed by the Mexican Federal Government back in 2001. That’s why some cynics now call it “Mexico’s Last Big Thing”, but here we are a bit more optimistic and understand that this kind of projects takes some time to develop. The idea behind the Nautical Ladder was to tap the huge marine industry of California and use it to develop the Baja Californias and the coastal states of the Sea of Cortes. The project envisioned 27 marinas in total, thousands of hotel rooms, new roads and even a ‘land bridge’ to save time and take your vessel across the peninsula through a paved shortcut where heavy trucks would transport yachts and small ships from the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Cortes.
Well, first the project faced several delays in its development, then the 2008 crash happened and everything was put on hold. Mexico’s tourism industry faced its own perfect storm in 2009 with the slowdown of the global economy, the flu epidemic, and the war on drugs. Since then, the industry has fully recovered and its booming right now, producing the best numbers in tourism in Mexico ever. So, it was just natural that with this new, more positive circumstances, the Federal Government would look to bring back to life its most important project since the inception of Cancun.
Back in 2014, the Government started to look for funding of the project and has been working on finishing the Port of Santa Rosaliíta, the western end of the so-called land bridge. As of today, the Federal Tourism Promotion Fund (Fonatur) that created tourism hotspots such as Cancun, Huatulco, and Cabo, manages 7 marinas in the region without even taking into account the new one at Santa Rosaliíta and those in Cabo that are managed by private investors.
So that’s a beginning. The curse of the Nautical Ladder was its grand ambitions and way too optimistic forecasts. But the idea has its merits and the potential is there. The problem was that with the Nautical Ladder the Government tried to go from step 2 to step 8 in the ladder with one big jump. But the economics of the project brought it down to reality. And that’s a good thing, as now the Nautical Ladder has been growing organically as it should have from the beginning. Let’s see how the market receives the Santa Rosaliíta Port and build on that.
There are over 1 million vessels parked at different ports throughout the states of California, Oregon, and Washington in the US. That’s a huge opportunity for a country like Mexico that can offer warmer weather and beautiful beaches all year round. The problem is not the project in itself, but the way it was pushed forward by the Government, without the funding needed to make it happen. Let’s hope they’ve learned from the mistakes and that the Nautical Ladder becomes a reality one day, and that it helps to bring progress to this underdeveloped region of Mexico.