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After years of growth, Yucatán’s hotel industry is holding on for dear life

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
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.
The Holiday Inn near the Yucatán International Convention Center has been closed since the pandemic began, but the Hyatt next door is taking guests. Photo: Lee Steele

Occupancy in Mérida’s hotels has reached an all time low despite discounts of up to 60%.

Most hotels are currently getting by with an occupancy rate of around 15% while none have managed to exceed 30%, according to statistics from Yucatan’s Observatorio Turistico.

“Many hotel owners are using up their savings to keep their businesses open and continue to pay their employees. These efforts can only be described as titanic,” said Armando Bojórquez Patrón, president of Latin America’s Association for Tourism and Culture. 

A Courtyard by Marriott slowly arises near the International Convention Center, bringing competition to numerous hotels in the Mérida’s hotel zone. Photo: Lee Steele

Visits to archaeological sites in Yucatán have seen a decrease of 63.6% while workshop and convention tourism has all but stopped, declining 96.4%.

Mexico’s first Residence Inn by Marriott, which was built near the Siglo XXI convention center, actually opened its doors for the first time in Demember during the COVID-19 pandemic after delays that began in June. 

Mexico’s open-door policy during the COVID-19 pandemic has seen some of its most popular destinations such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen continue to draw large numbers of international travelers. The policy is widely suspected as culpable in spiking COVID-19 rates in Mexico. 

A cab driver hopes for a passenger one early morning in front of the Fiesta Americana Hotel in Mérida, Yucatán. Photo: Lee Steele

“I decided to travel to Mexico because they do not require any COVID-19 tests to enter the country. I wanted to go to Turks and Caicos, but their restrictions made it too difficult,” a French tourist told the BBC.

Mexico has reported nearly 2 millions cases of COVID-19 and over 174,000 deaths. 

“Vaccines will not magically fix the tourism industry; we could be facing a year as bad or worse than 2020 if things don’t turn around soon,” said Bojórquez Patrón.

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