TIJUANA Baja California cuisine is basking in another sweet success.
This time, it's Mexico's President Felipe Calderón delivering the good news Monday at the start of a tourism conference that draws an estimated 7,000 travel industry experts from around the world.
He announced that the "Baja California Culinary Fest," held in October, had won the federal government's tourism award in the area of gastronomy.
Calderón was in Puerto Vallarta to open the 37th edition of the Tianguis Turístico, a conference that showcases the latest Mexico has to offer in the areas of culture, adventure tourism, business and gastronomy.
Two of the driving forces in Baja California in the latter field, chefs Javier Plascencia and Miguel Angel Guerrero, were on hand to receive the award. They are credited with helping to create the Baja Med cuisine, which uses natural products from the Baja California region to create a unique taste.
Juan Tintos Funcke, Baja California's Secretary of Tourism, also on hand, acknowledged the award in a long list of honors the state has received, among them:
-- The Valle de Guadalupe's "wine route" being named the best tourist route in Mexico;
-- The Port of Ensenada as the most searched Mexican tourist destination in Google;
-- The inclusion of 44 Mexican wines, originating in Baja California, to the prestigious Guía Peñín,
"And now this distinction that highlights the effort made between the state's authorities and the private sector," Tintos said.
Calderón underscored the importance of tourism.
"For my government, tourism is a strategic sector because it translates into economic growth. It means jobs and opportunities for millions of Mexican families," Calderon said. "That's why we made it a national priority."
The president said that during 2011, about 23 million tourists visited the country. He hoped that in the next decade, Mexico will be among the top five most visited countries in the world, according to Frontera's newspaper website.
In October, the "Baja California Culinary Fest" had a five-day program and 30 activities in the cities of Tijuana, Rosarito Beach, Ensenada, San Felipe, Tecate and Mexicali, as well as the participation of 27 chefs, sommeliers and mixologists.