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Cancún and its airport are now busier than before the pandemic

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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.
International arrivals in Cancún have already more than doubled the total for 2020. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

As infections continue to decrease, the tourism industry on Mexico’s Caribbean coast seems to be doing better than ever. 

International flights to Cancún in 2021 have already surpassed all arrivals recorded in 2019.

By the end of September, Cancún’s airport had already received 933,081 international passengers  — 5% more than during all of 2019. 

Flights between Cancún and Europe have been fully booked for the last several months, leading to a considerable increase in prices. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Domestic travel has also bounced back in a big way with a growth of 32.4% when compared to pre-pandemic numbers. 

Ferry operators to Mexico’s Caribbean islands including Cozumel and Isla Mujeres are also now back to full capacity and have actually begun to add more frequent service.

Earlier: Should Yucatán develop its very own Cancún-like hotel zone?

Also on the uptick are hotel occupancy rates in Cancún and across the Mayan Riviera’s top destinations, including Tulum and Playa del Carmen

Shops and restaurants in Cancún’s airport are now busier than ever, though facemasks are still mandatory. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Cancún and the Mayan Riviera continued to attract large amounts of international tourists, in part due to Mexico’s lax attitude toward the pandemic. 

Unlike virtually all other destinations, at no time during the COVID-19 pandemic has Mexico refused tourists entry to the country. Visitors are obliged to fill out an online form at the border and inform officials of any COVID-19 symptoms. But more often than not, proof of completion of the form is not requested by officials. 

Contact tracing and statistical analysis models suggest that if social distancing and sanitary guidelines are adequately met, people on beaches are unlikely to become infected with COVID-19. However, the same cannot be said of packed restaurants and bars popular with spring breakers.

Currently, the state of Quintana Roo, of which Cancún is a part, is green on Mexico’s epidemiological traffic light system — its lowest possible level of alert. 

Through much of the spring and summer, Cancún was considered one of Mexico’s most dangerous COVID-19 hotspots

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