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PUERTO VALLARTA THE MODERN RESORT - 1960 TO THE PRESENT
 
Four influences converged during the 1960s and early 1970s to launch Puerto Vallarta into its trajectory toward becoming a major resort destination.

First the federal government finally resolved century old property disputes involving the status of communal land originally appropriated from the Union en Cuale mining company to be parceled out as farms. The communal (ejido) status of the land had stifled development in the town for much of the 20th century. The transition to private ownership of much of the land within present city limits culminated in the appropriation of much of the land in 1973 and the establishment of the Vallarta Land Trust (Fideicomiso) to oversee selling the land and using the revenue to develop the city's infrastructure.

Second, the American director John Huston filmed his 1963 film The Night of the Iguana in Mismaloya, a small town just south of Puerto Vallarta. During the filming, the US media gave extensive coverage to Elizabeth Taylor's extramarital affair with Richard Burton, as well as covering the frequent fighting between Huston and the film's four stars. The subsequent publicity helped put Puerto Vallarta on the map for US tourists.

Third, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Mexican government invested in the development of highways, airport and utility infrastructure, making Puerto Vallarta easily accessible both by air and ground transportation for the first time. The city's first tourist boom occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s because of this work. During those years most tourists in Puerto Vallarta were Mexican, and the reason they started travelling to Puerto Vallarta then was because the trip between Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta was made sufficiently convenient because of the governments investment in infrastructure.

Finally, in 1968 the municipality was elevated to the status of a City. The change in status reflected the renewed interest shown by the federal and state government in developing the city as an international resort destination.

Also significant was the August 1970 visit of US President Richard Nixon who met with Mexican President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz in Puerto Vallarta for treaty negotiations. The visit showcased Puerto Vallarta's recently developed airport and resort infrastructure, and thus contributed to the growing visibility of the city as a resort destination.

Prior to 1973, hotels in the city tended to be modest, and only two large sized luxury hotels existed (the Real and the Posada Vallarta). After 1973 Puerto Vallarta experienced rapid growth in the number of larger luxury hotels, culminating in 1980 with the opening of the Sheraton Buganvilias. In 1982 the peso was devalued and Puerto Vallarta became a bargain destination for US tourists. Consequently the mid-80s saw a marked and rapid rise in the tourist volume. This in turn fueled more development, for example the Marina which was started in 1986. By the early 90s development of other destinations in Mexico like Ixtapa and Cancún caused a slump in travel to Puerto Vallarta.

It was also during the early 1980s that Puerto Vallarta experienced a marked increase in problems related to poverty. While the devaluation of the peso brought record numbers of tourists to the area, it also stifled investment and thus construction. So while more and more workers were arriving in Puerto Vallarta to try to cash in on the booming tourist trade, less and less was being done to accommodate them with housing and related infrastructure. So during the mid 1980s the city experienced a rapid growth in impromptu communities poorly served by even basic public services, and with a very low standard of living as the boom of the early 80s leveled out. During the late 1980s the city worked to alleviate the situation by developing housing and infrastructure, but even today the outlying areas of Puerto Vallarta suffer from poor provision of basic services (i.e. water, sewage, roads) as a legacy of the early 80s.[9]

In 1993 the federal Agrarian Law was amended allowing for more secure foreign tenure of former ejido land. Those controlling ejido land were allowed to petition for regularization, a process that converted their controlling interest into fee simple ownership. This meant that the property could be sold, and it led to a boom in the development of private residences, mostly condominiums, and a new phase of Puerto Vallarta's expansion began, centered more on accommodating retirees, snow-birds, and those who visited the city enough to make purchasing a condominium or a time-share a cost-effective option.


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