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New Tulum airport announced to serve the Mayan Riviera

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President Andrés Manuel López Obrador unveiled his plans for Tulum’s new airport during his morning press briefing. Photo: Courtesy

Mexico’s federal government has announced plans for a new airport in Tulum.

The airport is to be built on the outskirts of Tulum, and not in Felipe Carrillo Puerto, as had been previously reported. 

Speculating on the future of the project, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that the airport could bring as many as 4 million yearly visitors to the Mayan Rivera.

Backers of the project hope that the newly announced airport will serve as a springboard for tourists to discover other destinations on the Yucatán Peninsula via the upcoming Mayan Train rail network. 

“Cancún already gets more than 10 million visitors a year. The point here is to create alternatives so that tourists can explore other attractions in the Maya region,” said López Obrador. 

The projected cost of the new airport was not announced, but preparations and preliminary studies alone are said to exceed a budget of US$12 million.

Earlier: Mexico’s new frontier is south of Tulum

Critics of the project say the new airport is unnecessary, especially given its cost and the fact that several airports in the region remain underused. 

Others question the wisdom of embarking on yet another major infrastructure project when existing projects such as the Tren Maya and the Dos Bocas refinery remain over budget and behind schedule. 

Although Mexico’s tourism industry continues to suffer a severe downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, numbers at popular resort towns such as Cancún and Playa del Carmen have begun to show signs of recovery. 

In recent weeks hotel occupancy has increased sharply from around 60% to closer to 80%, a trend expected to hold throughout the summer. 

But it’s not all good news as new COVID-19 infection rates continue to surge in Quintana Roo’s hotels and resorts despite recent vaccination campaigns aimed at tourism and hospitality employees. 

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