Mexico Sees Holiday Bump in Tourism Amid Pandemic Surge

Thousands of American tourists descended on Mexico’s glittering Caribbean beaches at the close of 2020 and start of this year. Quintana Roo state, the country’s tourism crown jewel, home to Cancun, the Riviera Maya and Tulum, received 961,000 tourists during that stretch — nearly half from the U.S. — down only 25 percent from the previous year, the Associated Press reported. But concern is spreading that the winter holiday success could be fleeting, because it came as COVID-19 infections in both Mexico and the United States, the main source of the foreign tourists, were reaching new heights — and as a new, more easily spread variant was beginning to emerge in the U.S. If a sharp rise in infections forces a new shutdown of the tourism sector, the effects would be devastating. Tourism accounts for 87% of Quintana Roo’s gross domestic product, said state Tourism Secretary Marisol Vanegas Pérez. The state lost some 90,000 tourism jobs — only 10,000 of which have come back — and countless others that depend on tourism. Flights from the U.S. dried up last spring as the pandemic took hold but have risen steadily since then. In December, Quintana Roo was averaging 460 air arrivals and departures per day compared to a pre-pandemic average of 500, Vanegas said. Read more.

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