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Hospitality industry in Yucatán braces for another slow summer

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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.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and low occupancy rates, a handful of new hotels have begun to operate this year. One new property faces the Yucatán International Convention Center. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Yucatán’s hospitality industry says it expects hotel occupancy rates to reach a maximum of around 50% over the summer season.

Most hotels in Mérida are currently getting by with an occupancy rate of around 25% while few have managed to exceed 30%, according to statistics from Yucatan’s Observatorio Turistico.

Industry observers say that they expect the bulk of summer tourism activity to be fueled by domestic travelers and international tourists from the United States. 

Air Canada on Saturday resumed its flights to Cancún, four times a week from Toronto and Montreal. But several operators, including Swoop, Sunwing, and Transat, say that they do not intend to resume flights to the majority of their Mexican destinations until the fall or winter.

Earlier: Cozumel schedules 24 new cruise-ship arrivals for June and July

“Unlike destinations like Acapulco or Cancún, Mérida has historically relied heavily on European tourism. But it is unlikely that we will see tourists from Europe start to arrive in Yucatán for a while,” said Roberto Zapata Llabrés, vice-president of Mexico’s confederation of tourism service providers.

Several restaurants and bars have also had to adapt to business models which rely less heavily on tourism, as well as contending with mobility restrictions that make it virtually impossible to move around in the city after 11:30 p.m.

On July 26, Yucatán will welcome cruise passengers for the first time in 16 months to the port of Progreso. But the Carnival cruise ship will only be carrying 500 passengers on a vessel capable of transporting well over 2,000.

Despite the low passenger count, Yucatán Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal says that the arrival of the first cruise ship in well over a year is cause for optimism. 

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