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Mérida on T+L ‘Best Cities’ list 5 years in a row

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Lee Steele
Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for our weekly newsletters, so our top headlines will appear in your inbox each Monday and Thursday.
Mérida is the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Yucatán as well as the largest city on the Yucatán Peninsula in southern Mexico. Photo: Sam Camp / Getty

We have been writing a version of this story for years and years.

And here we go again: Yucatán’s capital city of Merida ranked as one of the top Mexican Cities in this year’s Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2021. That makes this the fifth time the city appears on the “Mexico’s Top City” portion of the survey.

Mérida ranked fourth, just between No. 3 Oaxaca and No. 5 Zihuatanejo, a newcomer to the list. San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City were at the top of the list. The rankings were similar in the last poll, in 2019, except Guadalajara was in fifth place.

Merida also came in at number 4 in Mexico in 2018. In 2017, it placed seventh in the Best Cities in Mexico and Central and South America and fifth in 2016 under the same category.

It’s excellent publicity for Yucatán’s still-in-recovery tourism industry; T+L — a U.S. travel authority since 1971 — has over 3.8 million Facebook followers alone.

The awards, announced Wednesday morning, recognize the top hotels, islands, cities, cruise lines, airlines, and spas around the globe based on the results of its annual readers’ survey. Readers rated cities on sights/landmarks, culture, food, friendliness, shopping, and value, among other criteria.

Home to a vibrant international community with culture and gastronomy rooted in its distant past, and some of the best architecture in Mexico, the state of Yucatán is a must-see for anyone looking to immerse themselves in ancient and colonial cultures, according to a press release announcing the award.

“Mérida offers a unique duality of ancient Mayan culture and modern facilities,” it said. “A popular destination in Mexico, Mérida is an excellent base of operations for visiting the rest of the state and its remote destinations, which include the Yucatan Riviera, cenotes and haciendas, Puerto Maya, and the Mayan World Capital.”

Merida’s historic center is the second largest in Mexico and, among its streets, visitors will find large and beautiful French-style buildings that are testimony to the luxurious life that their owners led in centuries past. Cenotes, haciendas, cultural cities, pristine beaches and nature are the perfect cross-section of all that Mexico has to offer, the announcement continued.

“This year has been exceptionally challenging for the tourism industry; airlines, agencies and destinations have been in this together,” said Michelle Fridman, Yucatán’s minister of tourism. “To be included in the prestigious World’s Best Awards by Travel + Leisure as one of the best cities in Mexico and Latin America, especially this year, is a real honor. T + L readers have traveled a lot and, with their votes, have chosen Mérida for the fifth consecutive year as one of the main destinations to visit.”

The state of Yucatan has remained proactive in ensuring the biosafety of its local community and visitors. After closing itself to visitors, it quickly developed a health and safety certificate which was soon after verified with the Safe Travels Seal from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and creating a safe bubble for visitors.

Airport rebound

Mérida’s international airport has seen an increase in arrivals. Earlier this year, all of its international flights had returned to the airport and this week, Aeroméxico announced that it would almost double connections between Mexico City and Mérida to 33 flights a week, resulting in the arrival of 3,267 passengers every seven days from the nation’s capital to Yucatán. Volaris also continues with a gradual increase in operations to and from Mérida, bringing service to a total of 45 flights in July, a 60% increase over last June.

Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2021 is featured in the October issue on U.S. newsstands Sept. 17, and at www.travelandleisure.com.

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