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New numbers signal slow but steady recovery for tourism in Yucatán

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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.
Tourists can once again be seen all over in Mérida, but hotel occupancy remains low. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

As restrictions COVID-19 continue to loosen up across the Yucatán Peninsula, the tourism industry is anticipating a swift recovery. 

Quintana Roo tourism officials project that by the end of the year, the state will have attracted just over 12 million visitors, representing a recovery of roughly 80%. 

“Destinations in Quintana Roo such as Cancún, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen have shown great resilience during the pandemic. Of course, there is room for improvement, but we certainly seem to be on the right track,” said Andrés Aguilar Becerril, the state’s tourism secretary.

Also back are some large-scale events such as the Riviera Maya’s Playa del Carmen Jazz Festival, which is scheduled for November

Though the news is not quite as rosy in Yucatán, there are signs that visitors are starting to return in greater numbers.

“We are far off from where we would like to be, but the situation is improving,” said tour operator Sergio Solis. “This time last year almost all of the tourists coming to the state were domestic. Now we are starting to see the return of more Europeans, as well as Americans and Canadians.”

Earlier: Kantunil’s new tourist attraction — the ‘rabbit cenote’

Other signs of recovery include the return of cruise ships to the port city of Progreso as well greater affluence at archaeological sites such as Chichén Itzá and Uxmal

Though hotel occupancy in Mérida and Valladolid still remains low, hovering at around 30%, the situation seems to be improving slowly but steadily, according to data provided by state authorities.

In Mérida, event organizers are preparing to welcome attendees to Mexico’s largest tourism industry event, the Tianguis Turístico, which will bring together representatives from the country’s 32 states, as well as buyers from 70 countries.

“It has been a very difficult couple of years, but now that vaccinations are widely available and many of the restrictions have been lifted, I think we can expect to see things improve relatively fast. But it’s imperative that we do not let our guards down,” said Michelle Fridman Hirsch, the state tourism secretary.

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