The super popular boat tours from Cancun to Isla Mujeres are set to receive price regulation from the local government in an effort to protect both tourists and the boat operators.
Currently, there are over 1,500 small boats operating this service, as well as over 25,000 passengers taking this spectacular trip daily.
Pricing That Protects
There are large price differences across these small operators, with the fare currently varying between $50 to $80 USD.
The big concern for regulators is the fact many of these boats are assigned passengers from third-party tour operators who take care of the marketing and finding customers; these third parties are then taking a large cut from the boat operators.
Regularizing the pricing, in this case, the minimum amount paid to the boat operators, leaves much more cash in the pot for maintenance, insurance, and staffing.
These 3 money sinks are absolutely essential to the safety of these tours and, ultimately, the safety of the 25,000 tourists who experience them.
In fact, the president of nautical associates of Quintana Roo, Francisco Fernández Millán, said that many of these boat operators are seeing zero financial benefits for their work.
The authorities work hard in Cancun to promote and protect the safety of travelers but with 1,500+ vessels operating these tours daily, keeping on top of inspections is easier said than done. When small businesses are squeezed financially, corners are often cut.
Why Boat Operators’ Profits Matter To Travelers
The profits earned by boat tour operators understandably place low on the list of travelers’ concerns, but Cancun is a tourism-led economy, and the city’s offerings to visitors are all deeply linked.
For example, if the current situation were to continue, many boat operators would be forced out of business. With such small profit margins, a single mechanical fault could take a business out of the water.
To illustrate how big of an issue that can be, most small outboard motors have a lifespan of 1,500 without maintenance. And with these boats running for up to 8-10 hours per day, that means without maintenance the engines are dead in the water in just over 8 months.
Supply and demand set the prices in Cancun, and with 25,000 passengers daily and growing, a reduction in the number of boat operators would, without a doubt, lead to the remaining operators increasing their prices.
Value for money is important for many travelers, and with Cancun’s resorts only getting more expensive as demand skyrockets, the last thing visitors need is to be priced out of the many wonderful activities on offer in the city.
The Rise Of At Sea Rescues
Unfortunately, there have been multiple instances of tourist boats going down at sea, with lives being lost in the process.
Just last year, a tourist boat went down around Isla Mujeres, which led to the tragic death of a young child under the age of 6. And since then, there have been many more incidents, one as recently as 4 weeks ago when 2 crew and 13 tourists had to be rescued off Isla Mujeres after their vessel sank rapidly.
Help Is Close
Mexico operates only 5 government at-sea search and rescue stations, one of which is located on Isla Mujeres.
This unit is run by the Mexican Navy, which is on stand-by 24/7 to ensure no call for help goes unheard. They are equipped with modern search and rescue (SAR) vessels as well as SAR helicopters. Allowing a rapid response as incidents unfold.
Knowing a professional rescue is nearby is a big plus, but sometimes rescue arrives before the call for help is even sent out, as was seen recently near Tulum, south of Cancun, when local fishermen leaped into action to rescue several tourists who were in danger of drowning.
This act of selfless rescue isn’t rare from the locals in the Maya Riviera, who have put themselves in danger many times to come to the aid of travelers.
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