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2016 has been a watershed year for Yucatán tourism

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Mérida tourism is at a watershed moment in 2016, state official indicate. Photo: Courtesy
Mérida tourism is at a watershed moment in 2016, state official indicate. Photo: Courtesy

Yucatán is attracting more overnight tourists than Jamaica, Panama and Guatemala, and the number of visitors here is approaching levels enjoyed by Costa Rica, Colombia and Peru.

Before the year began, the Ministry of Tourism Promotion, or SEFOTUR, estimated 1.7 million tourists would come to visit the state’s archaeological sites, colonial cities and beaches in 2016. By September — before the height of the tourist season — the visitor count had already exceeded 1.1 million. 

Yucatán state’s tourism numbers edge out Panama, Jamaica and Guatemala by about 200,000 visitors. The state will have to attract 2.2 million tourists a year to equal Costa Rica and Colombia, which are much larger national destinations.

Tourists spent 4 billion pesos in the first eight months of the year, or 3,300 pesos a day per person, on average.

The head of the SEFOTUR, Ancona Saul Salazar, expressed confidence that 2016 will exceed 2015 dollars, since many tourist-friendly events are scheduled at year’s end.

The president of the Tourism Council of Yucatán (Cetur), Jorge Escalante Bolio, said that currently Yucatán is experiencing one of its best moments as a tourist attraction. He credited strong promotions and an exchange rate that favors U.S. travelers.

Next year is promising to be even stronger. Lonely Planet named Yucatán’s capital city Mérida one of the four best cities in the world to visit in 2017.

Lonely Planet cited Mérida’s designation of the American Capital of Culture, “meaning visitors can expect a ginormous cultural extravaganza as organizers stage a series of large-scale events throughout 2017.”

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