The thatched-roof guard shack at the exit off Highway 37 to Caborca gives a quaint first impression of the airport, but the facility is actually international, accepting small planes from Canada and the United States,and larger, charter flights from elsewhere in Mexico. Regular service with 737s between Rocky Point and Juárez is scheduled to begin in mid-April. For now, the airport's temporary terminal doesn't seem to have so much as a scuff or speck of dirt inside.

Continental Airlines is considering flights to Rocky Point from Los Angeles, says the airport's director general, Fernando Antillon. The airport also has been encouraging American Airlines to begin service from Dallas.

In addition, Phoenix is considered a potentially important hub to attract people from Albuquerque, Las Vegas, and states directly north of Arizona, Antillon says. Officials hope to see some U.S. airlines using Mar de Cortes by the end of this year.

The few guests at the Mayan Palace had
the place nearly to themselves recently.
Ray Stern
The few guests at the Mayan Palace had the place nearly to themselves recently.

Details

New Times fellow Gregory Pratt provided some of the Spanish translation for this article.

The price range would probably be in the $100 to $200 range for short hops from American cities, says Alonso Dominguez, an airport administrator.

"It would be cheaper to fly to Rocky Point than Cabo or other Mexican destinations," he says.

The fly-in service would have the advantage of alleviating the fears of people from Arizona and other nearby locales; many would-be tourists worry about their safety during the drive from Sonoyta to Rocky Point.

But it's clear that airline service to Rocky Point would be no replacement for thousands of Arizonans simply driving down. Traditionally, 80 percent of Rocky Point tourists are American, and 80 percent of those are from Arizona.

Looking to the long-term future, Rocky Point boosters talk about a cruise ship possibly sailing out of Old Port. Tourists could drive or fly to Rocky Point, then cruise around the Mexican Riveria. The idea is clearly a fantasy right now: In January, two huge cruise ships pulled out of the Port of Angeles, ending service to Mexico because of a lack of demand.

On a smaller scale, Rocky Point has tried to build up a semblance of sports tourism, hosting golf tournaments at the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course at the Mayan Palace and bringing in a new baseball team, the Rocky Point Tiburones (Sharks), expected to throw their first pitch at the town's baseball stadium next month.

One area that really has paid off is the domestic marketing and advertising done in Mexico. Easter week, for example, which most Mexicans have off from work, is booked solid in Rocky Point.

The town in July and August, when heat-loving Mexicans prefer to visit, according to locals, has been packed.

Still, promoters prefer to draw Americans and their fat wallets.

Rocky Point business owners chipped in $1 million of a $2.5 million project to expand the Lukeville port of entry from three northbound lanes to five. The project is expected to be finished by April 15.

If the violence calms down, or at least doesn't increase much, they pray that the past three years will become merely a memory for Rocky Point.



Update:Bad headlines had been rare for a couple of years. Tourism went up. Then Apocalypse Now came to Sandy Beach in December 2013. As frightened tourists watched, a military helicopter fired into a Sandy Beach condo suspected to be a cartel hideout. The federal operation also involved ground troops. Six suspects were killed, including one top lieutenant with the Sinaloan cartel. Yet the remaining suspects were able to flee with the lieutenant's body despite the military operation. How the suspects got out of Rocky Point, which is sort of at land's end with few roads leading out, remains a mystery. As with the violence covered in our 2011 article, though, it's virtually all Mexican-on-Mexican. Attacks on Americans remain rare. Thousands of Arizonans still make the trip each year. If a college student or family has been kidnapped or killed in the last few years, no news outlet has covered it. Buena suerte.
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1 comments
Nikkidog
Nikkidog

Just heard when crossing the boarder into mexico, the mexicans are taking turkey, steaks, hamburger meat and dog food from the Americans.  Not a very good thing to be doing when it's Thanksgiving and a lot of people will be going down there.

 
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