Tourism, Sportfishing, and Your Safety
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Visiting a new place is always a fun and exciting adventure. Puerto Vallarta is no different than any other world class vacation destination. Hotels, restaurants, shopping centers all want to attract your business and of course your tourist dollars. We all also know that when you travel to places like Puerto Vallarta, it's important to remember that you are not "In Kansas any more". While it is easy to forget in many ways that you're in a foreign land, people seem to put their "thinking caps" in their back pockets many times. It's almost a back handed complement, North American types with big hearts many times are easy marks for the unaware. A simple rule of thumb is if you wouldn't do "it" at home, then don't do it here in PV. The things I have seen are amazing, enough said. Before I move on, when I write informative pieces like this, you could call it "sour grapes" and if you're that type of person, then you should move on to another article. On the other hand, if you're interested in learning a little inside tourism "scoop" then hang around, I'm barely going to scratch a portion of the "surface" here so be advised, this is by no means a comprehensive piece.
Since I'm in the Deep Sea Fishing, aka Big Game Fishing game. We fall under the category of tourism. A highly regulated industry, we all have a long list of rules / requirements we have to follow and meet to be able to offer tours of any kind. Well I should say to own a company. Frankly all any "Bozo" has to do with almost all of the local tour companies is call, get your name on the agent list, and you're "official". Funny isn't it? In reality, that's not such a bad thing, but as a tourist you need to measure what your "gut" is telling you about this person. There are many tour companies, Vallarta Adventures is one of the best. With a larger company that is widely known and a safety conscious company, you can rest assured that all the legal and safety requirements and licenses are in place. Be advised you'll pay a little more for these tours of all kinds, including fishing tours. Others, no names please, can look like a larger company with a fancy web page, but in reality what do you really know about this company? How do you know it's meeting all legal and safety requirements? The bottom line is you don't, nobody is chasing these people down for all the different licenses you needed for a fishing company fall under three different govt offices. And like anywhere, if you write a law and you don't enforce the law, is it really a law? More likely the law gets enforced once there is a serious incident of some sort. It's at that moment you realize the only thing you inquired about was the price! Yep, I'm not kidding....
So before I scare you to death and you're afraid to take a tour or fishing trip, The Puerto Vallarta Board of Tourism is on your side amigos. Simple, any city around the world will most likely have a Board of Tourism. This local governmental group wants you to enjoy the safe and verified professional tour companies with insurance, safety items, procedures etc as dictated by law. So you have readily available tour companies and information so you know who is an actual verified tour company. Pretty simple isn't it? When was the last time this idea entered your vacation planning. You can start here: https://www.visitmexico.com/en/actividades-principales/jalisco/experience-the-adventure-of-touring-the-sierra-madre
Since I am a fishing guy it would be easy to list so many things to look out for, but I'd run out of space for the article, they only give me so much room you know. Having said that, let me put this question to you: What is the first question you ask when looking for a Deep Sea Fishing trip? Whats biting? Most likely you'll ask "How much for a fishing trip"? Hopefully you did a little research before you leave your home about fishing and what ever tours you'd be interested in. You'll see wide price ranges and of course everyone is an expert and catch fish! That will naturally remain to be seen, but more importantly what expectations did your "promoter" or agent create in you? Did your promoter offer any information or ask you what you wanted? And if he did, highly unlikely, did you know what to ask for? Sadly, probably not. Ask specifics!
The bottom line for now is the internet is no guarantee of a certified tour company. When it comes to fishing companies there is much to be cautious about. Don't look to the authorities to regulate as they should. Look to the locals, the board of tourism and frankly TripAdvisor, which is not much of a guide, but it's better than nothing. Internet boat rental companies book boats that are not theirs and many times boats that aren't even associated with the site you're paying. American and Canadian companies operating from a basement in Calgary is not who you want to deal with. If they are not at least physically located in the city you're visiting, stay away, it's a hornets nest. Basically it's a buyer beware market. If you have an issue, no matter how much you saved, it's going to be work to get your situation right. Which means you're better off paying too much with a quality company, than saving money on a product you will never receive. More about this next week.
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