Nearly 50% of the workforce is employed in tourist related industries: hotels, restaurants, personal services, and transportation. The municipality does however continue to have strong agricultural, industrial and commercial sectors.
Agriculture is especially important in the Ameca valley to the northeast of the city center. Principal crops there include flour corn, sweet corn, dry beans, fresh chile, watermelon and tobacco. Fruit growing operations are more dispersed, with banana farms in the Ameca valley, Mango orchards in the low hills, and avocado farms on some of the higher ground above the city. There are also significant livestock operations located in the Ameca valley, and of course fishing in the Bay of Banderas is also a significant industry. Industrial production includes food and beverage production, furniture production, and construction supplies. Thirty years of consistent development have given Puerto Vallarta a very strong construction sector which employs nearly 10% of the Puerto Vallarta workforce.
The commercial sector comprises nearly 17% of the workforce, including shipping, trucking, wholesale and retail operations (though the retail sector is probably understated because of the large underground economy in the sector). Shipping traffic consists of cruise ships, which arrive almost daily, and occasional visits by U.S. Navy frigates. The Mexican Navy maintains a base at the port, as well as a former naval hospital in the city center, which is now a Naval Museum. Puerto Vallarta is not however very active as a commercial port. Most goods arrive in Puerto Vallarta by truck along the Compostela highway from Guadalajara.
Tourism and travel represent a large part of Puerto Vallarta, with many rental and accommodations available. While the U.S. economy has created a downturn in overall tourism business, the other markets including Canada and Europe are still quite strong.
Tourism makes up roughly 50% of all economic activity in Puerto Vallarta according to puertovallarta.net. The high season for international tourism in Puerto Vallarta extends from late November through March (or later depending on the timing of the College Spring Break period in the USA.) The city is especially popular with US residents from the West Coast because of the number of convenient flights that exist between Puerto Vallarta and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.The air routes between Puerto Vallarta and Los Angeles and Puerto Vallarta and San Francisco are by far the most heavily traveled of all air routes into the city.
Vallarta is also a popular destination for domestic tourists: a popular weekend destination for residents of Guadalajara (tapatíos), and a popular national destination for vacations such as Semana Santa (the week preceding Easter) and Christmas. Also in recent years Acapulco has experienced a rise in drug related violence] and Puerto Vallarta has absorbed some of the Mexico City resort vacation business (Acapulco is a very common destination for tourists from Mexico City).
Puerto Vallarta has become a popular retirement destination for US and Canadian retirees. This trend has spawned a condominium development boom in the city. Puerto Vallarta was once named as "La Ciudad Más Amigable en el Mundo" ("The Friendliest City in the World"), as the sign reads when entering from Nayarit. Most believe this hold true today. Also over the past decade, Puerto Vallarta has become a popular gay vacation destination, and consequently the Olas Altas area now boasts about a dozen clubs, several hotels, and numerous specialty shops catering to a gay clientele.