The booth in the arrivals concourse is the 18th across the state and the first at the international border. There is a welcome center in Oceanside, but not at San Diego International Airport.
The new center, which will feature a bilingual staff, is a reflection of both the growing passenger traffic through the bridge to Tijuana Airport and what officials described as California’s “unbreakable bond” with Mexico.
“Tourism is one of the state’s most vital economic engines,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria at the center’s dedication. “When you come to California, all are welcome here.”
The airport bridge in Otay Mesa is on track to serve 3 million passengers this year, and the growth since its opening in December 2015 is two years ahead of projections, according to CEO Jorge Goytortua. He said plans call for nearby hotels, restaurants and a conference center.
Joe Terzi, president and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority, said that while the San Diego airport has flights to Mexico, the Tijuana airport serves many more destinations in that country and thus represents more tourism potential.
Despite recent political tensions, Mexico remains the leading source of visitors to California, with 8 million coming last year.
“It’s very important in Mexico that people know we want them here,” said Alex Pace, who will operate the welcome center for the California Office of Tourism.
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