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Simply Puerto Vallarta – A Grass Roots Campaign

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Simply Puerto Vallarta – A Grass Roots Campaign

A grass roots movement has begun. Simply Puerto Vallarta is a complete multi-media video campaign created by small business owners promoting their city, Puerto Vallarta.

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Video journalist, Laura Gelezunas of Video Diva Productions launched “Simply Puerto Vallarta”, a multi-media travel campaign designed to highlight the richness and diversity of Mexico’s premier coastal tourist town.

“Mexico’s reputation seems to run to the extremes,” says Laura Gelezunas, explaining the idea behind the project. “The good news keeps coming but it is not making the splash it should. That’s why we needed a grassroots campaign.”

In the September/October 2010 issue of AARP magazine, Puerto Vallarta is listed as the best place to retire abroad, and U.S. News & World Report Travel section ranked Puerto Vallarta as the number one vacation destination in Mexico during 2010.

“The small, local businesses make Vallarta special,” explains Mariano Montes de Oca, Director of PV Pulse Media. “It’s this human aspect to our city and our culture that is reflected in the warmth and hospitality of this place. The challenge is to provide the people with a voice, and Simply Puerto Vallarta is that voice.”

Simply Puerto Vallarta is a video campaign that will include the small-business owners in the promotion of their town. Unlike traditional PR efforts, Simply Puerto Vallarta was designed to put the media message back into the hands of those it most affects – area residents. The stories show what is going on in the city.

“This is a way for us to be a part of an effort expressing how and why Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful and growing city, plus it is a safe destination,” says Simply Puerto Vallarta sponsor Gelsey Fadul of Hotel Playa del Sol. “I’ve seen it bloom throughout the years and it just really hurts me to see how the TV and internet news outlets are basically hurting us as a place to visit or live.”

“It is an innovative campaign which reaches out to the international community via the internet”, says sponsor Juan Rojas Gonzalez of El Palomar Restaurant. “It seems like it will be a new opportunity and it’s going to be good to share all the great things Puerto Vallarta has to offer.” This campaign started in October 2010 and will end in February 2011. Look for the next series of videos to be released in mid-February 2011.

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Living the Dangerous Life in Mexico

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Living the Dangerous Life in Mexico

For background, I run a forum in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and the most popular posts lately have been in reference to fears of the “dangers” of traveling and living in Mexico.

I live in Puerto Vallarta permanently and have for three years. Before that I visited Vallarta many times and was a bit of of a snow bird, coming and going with the seasons. I have traveled in many parts of Mexico, as well as South East Asia, the US and Europe.

I’m not a normal tourist by any measure, and I frequent many parts of this town that most tourists would never consider visiting and, certainly, no tourist guide would ever recommend. I live in a barrio, of sorts, far from the gringo enclaves and condo developments. And I don’t blend: I’m an old gringo with red hair, blue eyes and freckles.

No Stinking BadgesThe American and Canadian media have been painting Mexico with a broad brush of danger and fear: Heads rolling into nightclubs, police being gunned down in their driveways, tourists being knifed in their condos, etc. Mexico is now being compared to Middle East war zones by US Pentagon spokesmen.

Supposedly, 6000 people have been killed in the “drug war” here last year (2008). I say “supposedly” because this figure discounts the people normally killed in those cosmopolitan areas and supposes that the cause and motives are the same in all of these deaths. It’s a lot of deaths.

  • I have had a friend here mugged at 3 am when he was walking home drunk from a night of partying. He was beaten and kicked when he didn’t let go of his camera bag.
  • I know of another person who challenged a burglar in his condo (there because the balcony door had been left open), and he was killed when the burglar picked up a kitchen knife to try to get away.
  • There is a report of a gay man who was given a “date rape” drug in a strip bar and then robbed and beaten. Details are sketchy on this instance, but you get the picture.
  • A transsexual was killed a year ago when she had an argument with a trick over payment (or so the street story goes…).
  • A young man was killed almost 2 years ago when he withdrew thousands of dollars from a bank and fought to keep it as he was being robbed.

These are all real stories and all horrible and all things that could happen anywhere. I know. I have lived in places, like Oakland, California, where life was described by everyone as a “war zone.”

The Usual BandidosTo some, this statement of perspective and universality is a deflection from the “dangers of Mexico” that are now being portrayed nightly on all major US and Canadian media outlets.

To others, this is the reality of anyone who has any life experience in any place in the world. I don’t believe that I left any major “crime” involving tourists out here in the last several years.

So why this media blitz about the “dangers” of Mexico? And, more importantly, why is any of this “sky is falling” propaganda rubbing off on Puerto Vallarta, which is definitely outside of any drug cartel battle grounds?

I don’t have a clue. The cynic in me says that it’s just a marketing ploy by the “buy at home” tourist industries of the North, but can big business really be that cold as to slander a whole nation to get a few more tourists to spend their extra $$ locally? I don’t think so, but I’m not one of those trying to get that tourist $$.

Should tourists be warned of the dangers here? Of course, but, then, they are already warned by any travel guide or travel agent in the world that they would talk to. The warnings are standard for any country:

  • Don’t display ostentatious wealth inappropriately
  • Don’t engage in illegal activity
  • Keep aware of your surroundings.

Many people on vacation try to make over the location of that vacation to fit an idealized version of their homes, often forgetting that their homes are no where near any imagined ideal. This tendency is the concept behind the walled, AI (All Inclusive) compounds being constructed in Nuevo Vallarta, it is the concept behind the tacky, white bread, Taco Bells of life.

Mexico isn’t Taco Bell.

Note: This article originally appeared here, and is reprinted with permission.

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