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A big win for Yucatán, the newest member of the World Tourism Organization

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Tourism officials and industry leaders say they are confident that with the right strategy Yucatán can recover the ground it has lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht  

A campaign to further boost the state’s economy has paid off. Yucatán has been granted membership in the elite World Tourism Organization.

The organization is a United Nations agency that promotes responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism.

The organization, headquartered in Madrid, received 36 nominations for admission but ended up accepting only 16.

The news comes after Yucatán Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal applied to the organization last summer in hopes of revitalizing the state’s tourism industry.

“This is not just for show. Membership in this organization will help us stimulate our tourism industry and bring more and better jobs to Yucatán,” said Gov. Vila Dosal.

The groundwork for Yucatán’s acceptance into the organization was laid in July when the association’s secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili, visited the state and toured several of its attractions.

World Tourism Organization Secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili, and other dignitaries during visit to Uxmal’s new video mapping show. Photo: Courtesy

“It is absolutely crucial to work towards the enhancement of a new generation of partnerships, partnerships not only with governments, not only with civil society,” said Pololikashvili during his visit to Uxmal.

Earlier: Yucatán’s tourism industry looks to recover lost ground

Last month, Mérida hosted the Tianguis Turístico México, the nation’s largest tourism industry trade show. The expo attracted hundreds of industry players to the city, offering a much-needed bump to the city’s hard-hit hotel sector

Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism stood at an all-time high: one out of 10 jobs worldwide depended on tourism and international tourist arrivals reached 1.5 billion in 2019.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been disastrous for Yucatán’s tourism sector, which in 2019 welcomed 3.2 million visitors. In 2020 the number dropped to approximately 750,000, mainly domestic tourists, according to Yucatán’s Observatorio Turistico. 

The downturn has been particularly problematic for Yucatán, where the tourism industry made up nearly 10% of the state’s 2019 GDP.

But there are signs that tourism in Yucatán is starting to recover, as signaled by new international routes, the return of cruises to the region, as well as considerably improved hotel occupancy
Large tourism infrastructure projects, such as the Mayan Train, have also poured billions into the Peninsula and created thousands of temporary jobs.

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