Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - All eyes were on Puerto Vallarta this week as the seventh World Economic Forum on Latin America reached its successful conclusion, wrapping up a full program of sessions that began Monday, April 16th and spanned a number of topics under the theme "Regional Transformation in a New Global Context."
The forum convened close to 900 top regional and global leaders from 70 nations, practically doubling the average number of attendees in previous years. According to José Antonio Torre Medina, Undersecretary for Competitiveness and Business Regulation of Mexico, the Puerto Vallarta event established a new record, as the maximum attendees registered by the World Economic Forum previously had been 550 persons.
This year, 37% of the participants were from Latin America and the Caribbean, 29% from the United States and Canada, 20% from Europe, 9% from Asia, and 5% from Africa and the Middle East. Full details of the program are available on the WEF website.
Key decision-makers from around the world included five heads of state or government: Felipe Calderón, President of Mexico; Désiré Bouterse, President of the Republic of Suriname; Ricardo Martinelli, President of Panama; Otto Perez Molina, President of Guatemala; and Mariano Rajoy Brey, Prime Minister of Spain.
The Co-Chairs of the meeting reflected the international character of the participants: Sally Blount Dean, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, USA; H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Crown Prince of Norway; Jeffrey Joerres, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, ManpowerGroup, USA; Martin Senn, Group Chief Executive Officer, Zurich Insurance Group, Switzerland; Daniel Servitje, Chief Executive Officer, Grupo Bimbo, Mexico; and Juan Jose Suarez Coppel, Chief Executive Officer, Pemex - Petró Mexicanos, Mexico.
Over 75 accredited media organizations were on-hand, with journalists from Mexico, El Salvador, the United States, Spain, Colombia, Switzerland, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Germany and the People's Republic of China, representing CNN, Bloomberg News, Agencia EFE, Dow Jones Newswires, Folha de São Paulo, Poder Magazine, Reuters TV, Telemundo and Televisa, to name but a few.
Worldwide coverage included traditional media as well as a social media campaign, which allowed citizens to pose questions to be included in the forum. The sessions were simulcast and videos were archived, extending the reach of the conference around the world. For highlights and more, click HERE.
The conference site was Puerto Vallarta's new International Convention Center, noted as meeting the highest requirements of the World Tourism Organization to hold international meetings in accordance with the guidelines set by the United Nations conventions system. The $43 million, state-of-the art facility provided a superb setting for the World Economic Forum, meeting and exceeding the expectations of the organizers and attendees.
The city of Puerto Vallarta itself is the second largest of the Mexican state of Jalisco. This seaside port offers a prime array of attractions as a tourism destination, which was put on full display to welcome visiting dignitaries and participants. The Welcome Reception, an evening hosted by the government of Jalisco, took place in the Malecón area, one of Puerto Vallarta's most emblematic sites facing the arches.
The attendees enjoyed a magnificent view of Banderas Bay, as well as a sampling of the best of Mexico and Jalisco, including Mariachi music, classic and folkloric ballet, and a show featuring one of the evolutionary myths of the Huichol people's world view, set within a play of lights and fireworks.
The majority of participants were guests at Marina Vallarta's Grand Tourism hotels, including Marriott CasaMagna, Westin Regina, Sol Melia, Casa Velas and the spectacular Velas Vallarta Grand Suites Resort, which was the site of a gala dinner on Tuesday evening hosted by Mexico's President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa.
The open-air event - a cultural soirée for 800 - was held on the shores of Banderas Bay, and showcased the history, artistry and culture of Mexico through myriad images, art and food. It featured a four-course menu paired with wines from Mexico's Baja region.
Entertainment was provided by Mariachi Vargas and the National Symphony Orchestra, the most important classical music and symphonic ensemble in Mexico, accompanied by the renowned young Mexican tenor, Jesús León.
A 15-minute firework display, synchronized to the philharmonic's music, provided the evening's finale. As guests exited the venue they were presented with a collector's gift book, El Malecón de Puerto Vallarta: Murmullo de Sierra y Mar, presented by the Puerto Vallarta Visitors and Convention Bureau.
Despite the record number of visiting public figures and VIPs attending the World Economic Forum on Latin America, the city had prepared well in advance and every event flowed smoothly with no incidents of any kind. To date, it has been the most significant event held in the city in terms of global dignitaries present at one time, global media coverage, and logistical organization in executing large-scale events, confirming Puerto Vallarta's ability to host conferences of this stature."With the favorable conclusion of the World Economic Forum on Latin America, so close on the heels of another major event, the most successful Tianguis Turístico in history, Puerto Vallarta has consolidated itself as a premier meetings destination," said Luis Angarita, President of the Puerto Vallarta Visitors and Conventions Bureau. "This, coupled with our exceptional tourism attractions, culture and natural beauty, will no doubt propel Puerto Vallarta to the top of meeting planner lists around the world."