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Yucatán’s tourism industry looks to recover lost ground

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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.
Domestic and international tourists are starting to return to Yucatán in larger numbers, but it is unclear how long a complete recovery of the state’s tourism industry will take. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Authorities in Yucatán are hoping that Mérida’s long-awaited Tianguis Turístico will help the battered tourism industry get back on its feet. 

The Tianguis Turístico is Mexico’s largest tourism industry trade show and will bring together representatives from the country’s 32 states as well as buyers from 70 countries.

“We are hoping that the event will act as a catalyst for the industry and lead to a domino effect that will help us recover lost ground and jobs,” said Rosa Isela García Pantoja, president of Mexico’s tourism association in Yucatán. 

The event will take place at Yucatán’s new International Convention Center over three days beginning Nov. 16.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been disastrous for Yucatán’s Tourism sector which in 2019 welcomed 3.2 million visitors. In 2020 the number dropped to approximately 750,000, mainly domestic tourists, according to Yucatán’s Observatorio Turistico. 

The downturn has been particularly problematic for Yucatán, where the tourism industry made up nearly 10% of the state’s 2019 GDP. 

Earlier: Recoveries improve as daily COVID cases drop below 100

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Yucatán’s hotel occupancy dipped below 15% on several occasions. But as new infections continue to drop and restrictions are lifted, the industry is expected to make a major comeback.

Though life in Yucatán’s most popular tourist destinations is slowly recovering, social distancing protocols and reduced capacities mean that bars and restaurants are still unable to operate at full capacity. 

Last weekend, Bonampak, a new bar on Calle 60, was shut down by authorities once again, allegedly for violating social distancing guidelines. 

The INAH is reporting that Yucatán’s archaeological sites including Chichén Itzá, Uxmál, and Ek Balamb are now operating at near capacity. Tourism officials say they are hopeful that attendance will recover completely by mid-2022. 

The Tianguis Turístico Mexico was originally slated to be hosted in late March 2020, but given the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, was pushed back to that fall, and then March, before it was ultimately canceled and replaced with a virtual event held entirely online.

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