TREND: A trip to Cancún is back on the calendars of many international visitors, including families, college students, and political figures, as spring break dawns. The resort town is one of Mexico’s most popular destinations and is trying to make up for the sheer drop in the number of tourists during last year’s season. State authorities have begun to ease some restrictions on the tourism industry as the spread of local cases of Covid-19 appears to slow down.
•Cancún was the most searched destination by Americans last week in Kayak, the popular travel website; San José del Cabo came in second place. According to its tool for monitoring Flight Search Trends, interest in Cancún spiked 26 percent during the week of February 21 compared with the previous week. Searches for San José del Cabo grew by 22 percent during the same period.
•Mexican destinations faced a harsh month. The announcement of restrictions on travel to the country by the Canadian Government and brutal winter storms in parts of the U.S. disrupted flights. Despite the situation, the pace of tourism could accelerate in March, with a full recovery still be far off. Quintana Roo State’s Tourism Secretary announced that authorities expect the arrival of over 551,000 tourists in Cancún during the season, an improvement compared with the 57,000 that made their way to the city during the Holy Days in 2020. The projection for 2021 is still 55 percent less than the number of visitors in 2019.
•The frequency of flights to Cancún is growing nonetheless. The local airport saw an average of 362 flights during the final weekend of the month. More international airlines are currently offering service to Cancún, including Aeroméxico, Air France, Alaska Airlines, Alitalia, American Airlines, Continental, Copa Airlines, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, KLM, Southwest, Turkish Airlines, VivaAerobus, Volaris. Other carriers have announced flights to Cancún in the coming weeks, like Evelop and TAP Portugal.
•Quintana Roo’s government lowered the state’s Covid-19 threat level to yellow, the second-lowest in a four-color scheme. The change means that hotels, restaurants, historical sites, golf clubs, beaches, churches, cinemas, and related tourism sites can operate at 60 percent capacity. Some activities like expositions, gambling in casinos, conferences, and similar events can be held in places at 50 percent capacity if outdoors or 30 percent indoors. Bars and nightclubs remain closed.
•Covid-19 testing is still available at Cancún International Airport. Travelers must show proof of a negative test before boarding a flight to the U.S., as required by American authorities. Testing units are mobile and open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Results from antigen tests are available approximately after an hour of being administered. In contrast, PCR tests may take from 24 to 48 hours. Time your visit, and be aware that any unexpected changes to your itinerary might affect your testing times. The units at the airport do not accept appointments and might run out of tests. Consider visiting a local clinic or testing-site in the city before leaving. Quintana Roo’s Secretary of Tourism published a list of available sites across the state with information on prices, websites, service hours, and contact numbers. Some resorts offer their guests tests; check with your travel agency or concierge about service.
TAKEAWAY: Cancún is just one flight away from major airports in the U.S. and is a great destination to escape recent bouts of cold weather. The city is slowly expanding the number and kind of activities allowed during the pandemic. Be mindful of the rules put in place by local authorities and inside hotels, restaurants, and other businesses, and do not take unnecessary risks with your health.
* Spotlight by Sergio Mendoza, Senior Consultant at Riskop, a consulting firm focused on strategic intelligence and risk mitigation for investors and decision-makers in complex sociopolitical environments. It is located in Monterrey, Mexico. Twitter: @RiskopMx