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Hotels expect to be booked solid at year’s end

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A fresh coat of paint covers a hotel tower due to open in the Centro in 2018. Photo: La Jornada Maya

Mérida, Yucatán — By the end of the year, hotels will be 100 percent booked.

That’s the prediction from Héctor Navarrete Medina, the president of the Mexican Association of Hotels of Yucatan. He has been encouraged by strong occupancy rates in 2017, up 6 percent over the previous year.

Combined, hotels in Mérida have a yearly occupancy average of 68 percent, and they rely on holiday travel to make up for slow periods.

Meanwhile, hotels were victorious in lobbying for Airbnb homes to be subject to taxes on rental income, and will obliged to comply health and safety regulations.

Last year 75,000 travelers searched Airbnb alone for lodging in Yucatán, said Jorge Balderrama Ramos, a manager for the platform in Mexico. The number of Airbnb accommodations in Mexico grew 71 percent in the last 12 months, reports Forbes magazine.

Angel Terral, general director of the booking platform, signed a letter of intent with the state Secretariat of Tourism, agreeing to share tourism data and focus promotions toward Airbnb users, a tourist sector that is distinct from hotel guests.

Navarrete Medina said that 2018 presents a challenge: keeping occupancy rates up when 12 new hotels — with a combined 2,100 rooms — open their doors.

The catalyst for hotel growth is the new convention center, which will be open early in 2018. Most new hotels appear geared toward business travelers.

He urged creation of a promotion program in the U.S. cities with direct connections to Mérida: Houston, Atlanta and Miami.

“It is not time to lower your guard,” Navarrete Medina said, in Spanish, to reporters. Yucatán can meet the high demand for eco-tourism, destination weddings, conventions and medical tourism, he said.

Sources: Forbes, La Jornada Maya, Diario de Yucatán

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