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Feature 062011 Raposa

Monday, June 20, 2011

 

Expatriates Express Confidence in Baja California

 

By Ron Raposa

 

About 70 community leaders in Baja California’s expatriate community recently attended the first summit of the "Baja Image Committee." It was organized for foreign residents who want to promote a positive and accurate portrait of the region.

 

The two-day summit, entitled “Building Baja’s Tomorrows Today,” was held June 8th and 9th at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, Mexico, which provided free lodging and meals for those attending.

 

The event was a response to requests from many of the thousands of expats who live in the region. Many have expressed a desire to do more to help convey an accurate picture of life in Baja California, especially to people living in the United States.

 

The summit featured testimonials from many of those residents, including some who said reports of scattered drug-related violence in recent years had made some friends and relatives reluctant to visit.

 

Those concerns are considered a large factor in the decline in tourism and visitors over the past several years, although a strong rebound was noted this past Easter and Memorial Day weekend, the traditional beginning of the summer season.

 

The summit included a panel discussion, as well as presentations on methods of gathering and distributing accurate and positive information, plus using social networks.

 

Hugo Torres, head of the Baja Image Committee and a former Rosarito mayor, said that “always telling the truth” is critical for such efforts to succeed. It is essential that government officials work hard to correct any problems that do exist, he added.

 

Baja California State Tourism Secretary Juan Tintos and Arturo Martinez, director of visitor assistance, told of government efforts to make visitors more comfortable and welcome, including the 078 assistance number which is in operation 24 hours day seven days a week.

 

Steven Kashkett, U.S. Consul General for Baja California, also attended to give an off-the-record briefing.

 

Rosarito resident Ken Bell, who leads the expatriate committee of the Baja Image Committee, pointed out that much work remains after the summit to accomplish goals that have been established.

 

Bell, as well as Rosarito’s tourism delegate Cesar Rivera, were summit moderators.

 

Other speakers included Emerson College Professor Gregory Payne, who has established a "Rediscover Rosarito" project that he said can be applied to all of Baja California. “You’re all your own TV networks,” Payne said, referring to the access that everyone has to post videos on YouTube and similar sites.

 

Chris Hill, of the "Live Mexico" campaign, and representatives of Allison & Partners public relations also spoke.

 

Expatriate residents from Rosarito, Ensenada, San Felipe and Tijuana who attended the summit are expected to share information and strategies for promoting a full, accurate and positive regional image with others in coming months.

 

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Ron Raposa, a publicist, is a member of the expatriate community who lives in the Rosarito Beach area of Baja California, Mexico.

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