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Travel agents begin boycott of Chichen Itza

An estimated 70 percent of visitors could be diverted to other sites

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Chichen Itza’s famed temple in bathed in light. Photo: Getty

Outraged over an imminent doubling of its entry fee, travel agents today began a boycott of Chichen Itza.

Sergio González Rubiera, president of the Mexican Association of Travel Agencies (AMAV) in Cancun, said that his members will be sending their clients to Tulum and Coba instead.

He said that travel agencies from Cancun, Riviera Maya and Cozumel supply 70 percent of Chichen Itza’s 2 million visitors each year.

Tickets for tourists from outside Mexico rise from 242 pesos (roughly US$12) to 480 pesos (US$24), on Feb. 1. The announcement blindsided tour operators.

“We asked for an extension of six months for the collection (in Chichen Itza) and then make the increase gradual, not overnight,” said González Rubiera.

“At the same time, we ask that you define a calendar with dates of progress and some criteria for measuring the improvements and, above all, the relocation of street vendors who work within the archaeological zone, whose number approaches one thousand,” González Rubiera continued, referring to the souvenir tables set up daily on the grounds.

Tourists routinely complain about the vendors, who distract and annoy visitors.

“There is talk of a whole mafia in there, with which the custodians of INAH (the government’s historic-preservation agency) collaborate, who allow them to be there by paying a fee. It is an impressive illicit business. We have denounced it for decades and they do not take it away,” he said.

González Rubiera also complained that the site demands better bathrooms and more efficient ticket windows. Surrounding towns, particularly Pisté, have been neglected but could be successful tourist destinations if better maintained.

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