Mérida’s strides in the past five years have not gone unnoticed in the national media.
In the past five years, increased travel to Mérida has been driven by the destination’s quality of life, greater air connectivity and educational opportunities, wrote El Financiero, which reports on business from Mexico City.
The journal assembled facts that outlined how quickly the city is growing, and why:
From January to September 2015, foreign tourists in Mérida totaled 186,193, an increase of 65 percent over the past five years, while domestic traffic, totaling 223,207 travelers, came to a rise of 43 percent compared the same period in 2010, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism of Yucatán.
“In Mérida, we have created more favorable living conditions in the country. Security in the city, entertainment, tourist attractions and a competent academic offerings have made Merida has the best quality of life and promise, we add economic development and connectivity, “said Carolina Cardenas, director of Tourism and Economic Development of Merida.
The air connection of the city has also grown.
American Airlines in the U.S., the Italian Blue Panorama and WestJet of Canada all announced new direct routes to Mérida, as more and more foreigners come to visit or live in Mérida. Cuba, El Salvador and Belize are also increasing flights. Available seats in the first nine months totaled 16,290, and in the same period of 2015, that number increased to 19,774.
Mérida is more of a college town, too, with higher education offerings increasing 20-25 percent in the last five years, said Ricardo Bello Bolio, director of higher education in the Yucatán secretariat. According to city records, there are 64 colleges and schools offering college diplomas.
“In the Universidad Anáhuac Mayab, 62 percent of students are from elsewhere, and there are six other universities both public and private that have similar student populations,” explained Cardenas.
The academic offering is focused mainly in medicine and technology, and soon Technological Institute of Petroleum will open; and there also are specialties in ophthalmology, dentistry and surgery, said Aurora Negrete, Director of Tourism of La Salle Cancún.
The article also cited the trend of homeownership and renting from U.S. and European expats.
The Mérida hotel sector will have a second stage of growth to meet strong demand in the next two years, said Carol Kolozs, owner of Rosas y Xocolate hotel/spa and vice president of the National Chamber of Commerce, Services and Tourism.
Between January and September 2015, hotel occupancy in the city of Mérida reached 59.02 percent, 3.8 points higher than the same period last year.
In the last five years the supply of hotel rooms in the “White City” grew from 6,282 to 8,081, up 29 percent, and big chains such as Hyatt, Fiesta Americana, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn and Victoria have helped fuel that growth.
Kolozs estimated that in the next 12 months, hotel investment will reach USD $50 million, aided not only by tourism but also conventions. Construction of a new conference center is already under way in the hotel zone, which was a project strongly advocated by Kolozs and his peers in the hospitality sector.