you are here: HomeNewsPhotosWorld

Mexico sees bump in tourism during the holidays amid pandemic surge

Concern is spreading that the winter holiday success could be fleeting, because it came as COVID-19 infections in both Mexico and the United States, the main source of the foreign tourists, were reaching new heights — and as a new, more easily spread variant was beginning to emerge in the U.S. If a sharp rise in infections forces a new shutdown of the tourism sector, the effects would be devastating.

January 13, 2021 / 04:16 PM IST
The friends from Jackson, Mississippi, relaxed on lounge chairs dug into a white sand beach and romped in the turquoise Caribbean waters, grateful for a break from the pandemic winter in the United States. They were among tens of thousands of American tourists who descended on Mexico's glittering Caribbean beaches at the close of 2020 and start of this year. Quintana Roo state, the country’s tourism crown jewel, home to Cancun, the Riviera Maya and Tulum, received 961,000 tourists during that stretch — nearly half from the U.S. — down only 25 percent from the previous year. (Image: AP)
Friends from Jackson, Mississippi, relaxed on lounge chairs dug into a white sand beach and romped in the turquoise Caribbean waters, grateful for a break from the pandemic winter in the United States. They were among tens of thousands of American tourists who descended on Mexico's glittering Caribbean beaches at the close of 2020 and start of this year. Quintana Roo state, the country’s tourism crown jewel, home to Cancun, the Riviera Maya and Tulum, received 961,000 tourists during that stretch — nearly half from the U.S. — down only 25 percent from the previous year. (Image: AP)
But concern is spreading that the winter holiday success could be fleeting, because it came as COVID-19 infections in both Mexico and the United States, the main source of the foreign tourists, were reaching new heights — and as a new, more easily spread variant was beginning to emerge in the U.S. If a sharp rise in infections forces a new shutdown of the tourism sector, the effects would be devastating. (Image: AP)
Concern is spreading that this winter holiday success could be fleeting. This is because it came as COVID-19 infections in both Mexico and the United States, the main source of the foreign tourists, were reaching new heights — and as a new, more easily spread variant was beginning to emerge in the U.S. If a sharp rise in infections forces a new shutdown of the tourism sector, the effects would be devastating. (Image: AP)
Tourism accounts for 87 percent of Quintana Roo’s gross domestic product, said state Tourism Secretary Marisol Vanegas Pérez. The state lost some 90,000 tourism jobs — only 10,000 of which have come back — and countless others that depend on tourism. Flights from the U.S. dried up last spring as the pandemic took hold but have risen steadily since then. In December, Quintana Roo was averaging 460 air arrivals and departures per day compared to a pre-pandemic average of 500, Vanegas said. (Image: AP)
Tourism accounts for 87 percent of Quintana Roo’s gross domestic product, said state Tourism Secretary Marisol Vanegas Pérez. The state lost some 90,000 tourism jobs — only 10,000 of which have come back — and countless others that depend on tourism. Flights from the U.S. dried up last spring as the pandemic took hold but have risen steadily since then. In December, Quintana Roo was averaging 460 air arrivals and departures per day compared to a pre-pandemic average of 500, Vanegas said. (Image: AP)
The increase in American tourists helped compensate for the Europeans, whose numbers remain sharply down. More U.S. tourists came to Quintana Roo during this pandemic-stricken holiday season than a year earlier, when the world was just beginning to learn of the coronavirus. They accounted for 9 out of 10 foreign tourists, Vanegas said. And they are staying longer, with some seemingly waiting out the pandemic at the beach, she said. (Image: AP)
The increase in American tourists helped compensate for the Europeans, whose numbers remain sharply down. More U.S. tourists came to Quintana Roo during this pandemic-stricken holiday season than a year earlier when the world was just beginning to learn of the coronavirus. They accounted for 9 out of 10 foreign tourists, Vanegas said. And they are staying longer, with some seemingly waiting out the pandemic at the beach, she said. (Image: AP)
Officials strive to “create a tourist bubble that generates confidence in everything a tourist does,” Vanegas said, describing how the visitors move from the airport to a van to a hotel, and then to tours of sun-splashed archaeological sites certified by state health authorities. (Image: AP)
Officials strive to “create a tourist bubble that generates confidence in everything a tourist does,” Vanegas said, describing how the visitors move from the airport to a van to a hotel, and then to tours of sun-splashed archaeological sites certified by state health authorities. (Image: AP)
For example, the throbbing crowd that packed shoulder-to-shoulder — many not wearing masks — in downtown streets and clubs to ring in the New Year in Playa del Carmen, the lively beach town between Cancun and Tulum. Indoor venues also pose a risk: Restaurants, theaters, salons and other businesses are permitted to operate at 60 percent capacity, and indoor gyms at 50 percent. Hotels can book at 70 percent capacity. (Image: AP)
For example, the throbbing crowd that packed shoulder-to-shoulder — many not wearing masks — in downtown streets and clubs to ring in the New Year in Playa del Carmen, the lively beach town between Cancun and Tulum. Indoor venues also pose a risk: Restaurants, theatres, salons and other businesses are permitted to operate at 60 percent capacity and indoor gyms at 50 percent. Hotels can book at 70 percent capacity. (Image: AP)
Vanegas said the state health department aggressively traces any reported infections. Still, there are worrisome signs. The positivity rate on COVID-19 tests in the state is nearly 50 percent and the weekly number of COVID-19 deaths quadrupled from the week before Christmas to the week after, according to federal government data. (Image: AP)
Vanegas said the state health department aggressively traces any reported infections. Still, there are worrisome signs. The positivity rate on COVID-19 tests in the state is nearly 50 percent and the weekly number of COVID-19 deaths quadrupled from the week before Christmas to the week after, according to federal government data. (Image: AP)
Health experts fear the increase in travel through the holiday season will likely lead to spikes in places that previously seemed to have it under control. (Image: AP)
Health experts fear the increase in travel through the holiday season will likely lead to spikes in places that previously seemed to have it under control. (Image: AP)
The southern state of Oaxaca, which draws tourists to its colonial capital as well as its laid-back Pacific beaches, had half the number of tourists this holiday season as a year earlier. State Tourism Secretary Juan Carlos Rivera said that wasn’t bad considering the pandemic. If infections increase sharply, pressure will build to close beaches again like last spring, spurring massive layoffs. (Image: AP)
The southern state of Oaxaca, which draws tourists to its colonial capital as well as its laid-back Pacific beaches, had half the number of tourists this holiday season as a year earlier. State Tourism Secretary Juan Carlos Rivera said that wasn’t bad considering the pandemic. If infections increase sharply, the pressure will build to close beaches again like last spring, spurring massive layoffs. (Image: AP)
When the pandemic arrived in Mexico, big hotels started laying off workers with what they called “solidarity breaks.” Workers were told it was temporary, that they’d be hired back in a month and most were let go without the benefits they deserved. (Image: AP)
When the pandemic arrived in Mexico, big hotels started laying off workers with what they called “solidarity breaks.” Workers were told it was temporary, that they’d be hired back in a month and most were let go without the benefits they deserved. (Image: AP)
Associated Press
first published: Jan 13, 2021 04:13 pm

stay updated

Get Daily News on your Browser
Sections