High season has come earlier than expected this year in Cancun, as the destination looks like setting a new record for the daily number of flights this season. The wildly popular destination, which has grown in strength since solidifying itself as a Covid-era travel top spot two years ago, has smashed existing travel records on several occasions throughout the past year – and it shows no sign of slowing down or letting up any time soon.
Yet along with the masses of tourists flooding into the comes a string of infrastructure problems, with hotels reaching sky-high occupancy rates, spaces for towels increasingly rare on its award-winning beaches, and an airport that is all but bursting at the seams. Here’s a look at how Cancun defied the odds and set a record once more, plus all of the issues and things travelers should consider that come along with being the world’s most in-demand vacation spot.
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Traditionally, the high season for Cancun comes between December and April, with the rest of the year seeing a noticeable lull in the number of travelers visiting. Between December and April, the sun is shiny, the stinky seaweed season is long since over and rain is but a distant memory. However, it seems that this year, the high season has come early, as record-breaking numbers of flights descended into the city over the past few days as the destination looks to solidify its position as the hottest vacation spot in the world right now.
This Saturday is set to see more than 600 flights operating in and out of the city – a number that is practically unheard of for Fall and usually reserved for peak times in the high season. This number will include 305 arrivals (98 domestic and 207 international) and 318 departures (99 national and 219 international) as the volume of passengers coming and going continues to go from strength to strength.
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Whilst it’s great news for businesses and those in the travel industry in Cancun, it’s quickly becoming a problem for travelers. Even this month, hotel occupancy levels are expected to surpass the 90% mark, limiting the number of options for travelers and making it hard for them to find value for money. As winter approaches, occupancy levels in the region are expected to approach max level – meaning that those who haven’t yet secured a place to stay could find themselves missing out.
That’s not the only problem travelers are likely to have when they reach Cancun. The high numbers of travelers have led to traffic jams en route to the airport, causing several travelers to miss their flights back home. Whilst pressure will be eased with the opening of a new airport in Tulum by the end of next year, travelers in the meantime will have to ensure they leave for the airport early to ensure they don’t miss their connection – or face the prospect of being stuck in Cancun without any hotel availability.
Days of relatively empty beaches are also a thing of the past in Cancun. With so many travelers flocking to the city, sunbeds around the pool are like gold dust, whilst getting to the beach early is the only way to ensure you secure that prime beachfront real estate. Fortunately for travelers, beaches are one thing that Cancun has an abundance of – so they likely won’t have to go far to find somewhere to get their sunbathing fix.
Those with thoughts of heading to Cancun may consider visiting alternative destinations in the Mexican Caribbean to try and escape the crowds. Places such as Isla Holbox, Tulum, and Bacalar – whilst still expected to be busy – may prove to be sage choices for travelers looking for more space and a more local feel, but they’ll have to move fast to ensure there’s room to stay this winter.
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