An Expected 3 Million Over The Spring Break And Easter Period Adds To That Tally
Cancun is off to an outstanding start to the year, confirming its place as the number one tourist destination in Mexico. According to new statistics released, Cancun saw 4.3 million passengers fly into its airport in January and February.
The figures suggest that Cancun International Airport commands 29% of all air traffic in Mexico, an astounding figure. It’s only beaten by Mexico City, a much larger airport that functions as the entire country’s main airline hub. Together, Cancun and Mexico City hold over 71% of all air traffic in the country.
This continues the trends seen in the past two years as Cancun maintains its position in the tourist industry. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the vast majority of the world’s tourist havens remained shut or heavily restricted. Mexico’s comparatively relaxed stance on the virus allowed Cancun to thrive, skyrocketing it to the top of the world’s most sought-after destinations.
Starting the year with over 4 million visitors is excellent, and beats out the same months in 2019, suggesting Cancun is operating firmly at pre-pandemic levels once again. It’s impressive to keep in mind that during that period, Quintana Roo suffered heavy restrictions after a massive uptick in the fast-spreading Omicron strain.
The state plunged as low as orange on Mexico’s epidemiological traffic light system, forcing hotels, bars, and restaurants to work at reduced operational capacity. The restrictions did have some impact on tourist numbers, but clearly not as much as anticipated.
The momentum is set to continue, as the late March and April periods are expected to see as many as 3 million visitors. Easter week falls within this period and some estimates suggest as many as 200 thousand visitors a day for the entire holiday. Interestingly, a large portion of these visitors is expected to come from Europe. With the rest of the world opening up, losses were anticipated across the Atlantic, but it appears the Ukraine conflict is having some positive impacts on tourism in Cancun.
New flights have been added from across the world, helping make Cancun one of the most connected smaller airports in the world. Direct flights from Barcelona, London, Sao Paolo, Vienna, and even Moscow (before the conflict) are landing almost every day.
The UK is proving an extremely fast-growing market, proven by the additions of multiple direct flights from lesser-known airports. Of course, the likes of London Gatwick are expected, but Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Doncaster, Newcastle, Glasgow, and Edinburgh being added means there’s a direct flight to Cancun servicing almost every corner of the country.
The momentum has continued despite regular problems surfacing in the region. Quintana Roo as a whole has been struggling to deal with the negative consequences of increased organized crime. With several gangs operating in the area, the homicide rate is alarmingly high – over 100 deaths since the beginning of the year.
While the majority of the violence has been limited to the gangs themselves and rarely touches tourists, there has been an increase in incidents at popular venues. A double assassination at the Xcaret Hotel was particularly jarring, followed by another two killings at a popular Tulum restaurant. Playa del Carmen has seen its share too. A British ex-pat was killed in front of his 14-year-old daughter a few weeks ago, and just last week four bodies were discovered in bushes near a new housing development.
Although the violence doesn’t affect the visitors much, the sheer proximity of the violence is enough for many to ask questions of Cancun and Quintana Roo’s safety as a whole. It doesn’t appear to be impacting numbers right now but as time moves on and the world’s other major beach spots become closer to their pre-pandemic selves, Cancun may have a battle on its hands to convince people it’s a safer option.
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