Q & A with Jaime Campos, Communications & Project Director of RED Travel Mexico -- based in
La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico - - about 2+ hours north of Cabo San Lucas. RED Travel Mexico
is a hybrid company, offering sea turtle and whale observation tours to the public as well as environmental consultation to Mexican businesses and educational programs to local schools. The company has been in operation since 2009.
ARE YOUR GUESTS MOSTLY FROM NORTH AMERICA?
Yes, about 80 – 85% are from North America, principally the USA and Mexico. However, sometimes we get clients from other countries such as Italy or even mainland China!
HOW DO TRAVELERS LEARN ABOUT YOUR COMPANY?
Mainly from our Internet website. However, we have also gained visibility from being selected as a finalist this year in the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards [sponsored by the World Travel and Tourism Council], and also National Geographic has put us on their list of the 10 leading adventure trips.
At RED we follow the strictest protocols at both the national and international levels for observation and handling of these species. For monitoring turtles, we have worked with leading organizations worldwide to develop monitoring protocols. Plus, every year we do a review of these to find the best way to observe and collect data without invading their [the turtles’] natural state. In the case of whales, we always try to give them their space to swim freely and not interfere with their habitat; however, if they get close to the boat, and they are seeking interaction with humans, the tourists have one of the most incredible and memorable experiences by being able to stroke them. Gray whales are especially famous for their friendliness.
WHALES ARE MIGRATORY, SO WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO SEE THEM?
In general, from the middle of January until the middle of March.
We discuss various topics with our guests such as migration patterns, animal behavior, and the relationship between these creatures and humans. We point out the different types of mangroves, explain how coastal dunes are formed, and what is the biological significance of these habitats. We also discuss some of the history and local culture of this region.
WHAT CAN VISITORS DO TO HELP THE LOCAL ECONOMY OR SUPPORT CONSERVATION HERE?
The simple fact of traveling to the region has a significant impact on the local economy, it helps to generate employment opportunities for the local residents so they do not have to rely on other activities for income, such as fishing. Also when people come here and have a great experience and then share that experience with their friends and family and recommend it, that is the best thing they can do. They can also make donations through our civil association in support of local student trips or to strengthen our community outreach programs.
WHAT CLOTHES ARE BEST FOR A RED TRAVEL MEXICO TRIP?
The best are comfortable clothes. In the summer months, it is hot. In winter time it's very important to wear layers because even though it may be rather hot during the day, during the night it gets very cold. We're in the desert, so temperatures are very extreme.
IS ECOTOURISM MAKING ANY PROGRESS IN MEXICO? IT SEEMS SOME TRAVELERS STILL THINK OF MEXICO AS A “PARTY 24/7” DESTINATION.
Mexico is characterized by a great diversity in its nature, culture, and history. It offers all kinds of trip options so you can find the type of trip you are looking for. Some do seek the all-inclusive hotel on the beach with emphasis on eating, drinking, and partying. However, nature tourism is growing in popularity – some people don't want to be limited to a hotel. They want to have outdoor adventures and experiences that can change their perceptions and their lives.
WHAT MAKES RED TRAVEL MEXICO DIFFERENT OR TO STAND APART FROM OTHER COMPANIES?
Being a hybrid company combining world-class tour operations with the civil association, RED has the opportunity to not only create amazing trips but also to support conservation efforts. We serve as a model of sustainable tourism for this region.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?
Our work has expanded rather a lot since the company was founded because before we operated in a limited geographic space - only in the camp of turtles and whales tours in the Magdalena Bay. Now we travel along the Baja peninsula, and we have plans to expand to other regions of the country.
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