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This Popular Tourist Activity Near Cancun Has Been Permanently Suspended

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As Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean continue to make strides in improving animal welfare, the popular island of Cozumel has taken a major leap forward with the decision to stop carriage tours pulled by horses.

a horse carriage in cozumel on a busy street

This week, officials announced the implementation of a new animal welfare law across the Mexican Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, prohibiting a number of wildlife and animal tours for travelers, including carriage tours. 

Although popular with travelers, visitors will still be able to enjoy Cozumel’s stunning wildlife through a number of more sustainable activities.

@isla.cozumel Visit heaven on earth in Cozumel 🏝️🤩✨ Here are the places you must visit if you want to spend an unforgettable vacation on this famous island of the Mayan coast. #MexicanCaribbean #FindCozumel #IslaCozumel #visitmexico ♬ Ocean Sounds with Music – Ocean Waves Radiance

As the island destination explodes in popularity this year, here’s a look at what the Mexican Caribbean’s newest animal legislation means for Cozumel.

Cozumel To Enact Stricter Animal Welfare Law As Destination Grows In Popularity 

Situated some 45 minutes by ferry from Playa del Carmen, Cozumel is the trendiest island destination in the Mexican Caribbean this year. 

Widely regarded as one of the top nature destinations in the region, Cozumel boasts an impressive number of pristine beaches, rainforests, and fun activities. 

@mrs_wong1 These are my recommendations for The port in Cozumel , have you ever been to any of these? Let me know! #fyp #thisisthewongs #traveltiktok #viajarbarato #cruisewithme #cruising #fy ♬ love nwantinti (ah ah ah) – CKay

For years, travelers have enjoyed horse-drawn carriage rides to experience the island’s natural and historical wonders.

An ubiquitous sight in San Miguel de Cozumel, companies operating these tours use horses to pull carriages with two to three passengers. 

But the introduction of new statewide legislation will see one of the most popular experiences on the island permanently suspended. That’s according to Martiza Deianira Basurto, a member of parliament for Cozumel, who has pushed for the new framework in the country’s legislature. 

@3days3noches Cozumel has been one of our favorite Cancun excursions so far!! I loved the fact that we had to take the ferry over to Cozumel from Playa Del Carmen and then start the excursion from the cutest beach club – Tortugas Cozumel. Then it’s just a short boat ride to the bluest waters you have ever seen. The link to the exact trip that we took is in our profile. It gets 5 stars on Viator!! #3days3noches #cozumelmexico #thingstodoincancun #cancunexcursions #viatorpartner ♬ original sound – 3days3noches

The politician added that once the laws fully come into effect, local tour operators using horse-pulled carriages will no longer be allowed to conduct tours involving animals. 

Local activists have been pushing for new environmental legislation since 2005, citing the region’s poor track record when it comes to animal welfare. But in 2024, the situation has changed dramatically as more and more efforts are carried out to improve standards in sustainable tourism.

While the new laws deal a heavy blow to local tour operators, officials say the move is part of a wider strategy to create environmentally sound experiences for travelers. 

@travelswithjanessa Come with me for our port day in Cozumel, Mexico! 🍉 Have you been here before? #cozumel #mexico #cruiseport #cruise #carnivalcruise #travelagent #travelswithjanessa ♬ NO SE VA – EN VIVO – Grupo Frontera

Meanwhile, officials in Cancun & Isla Mujeres are also continuing efforts to tackle what activists call animal shows, including those involving dolphins, although with limited success. 

Nevertheless, authorities are committed to making tourism greener for both humans and animals across the board, especially as travel numbers continue their steep growth.

Cozumel Attracts Growing Number Of Visitors After Being Named Magical Town 

Travelers headed to the paradisiacal island will still find many exciting adventures to enjoy; from wandering the many Mayan ruins dotting the island to enjoying Cozumel’s remote beaches, this island is packed with unique experiences. 

@shemamamaps Travel with me while we try to make the most of a day in port in Cozumel Island, Mexico while traveling with kids on a cruise ship. #traveltiktok #tiktoktravel #cozumel #cozumelmexico #cozumelisland #travelwithkids #cruisingwithkids #travelwithme #comewithme ♬ Good Vibes (Instrumental) – Ellen Once Again

After recently being confirmed as Mexico’s latest Magical Town, Cozumel has seen its travel numbers skyrocket. Thanks to its small – but busy – international airport, as well as a growing number of cruise ship arrivals, Cozumel is becoming more and more popular. 

Some of the standout attractions in the eco-tourism hotspot include a visit to San Miguel de Cozumel, the island’s quaint capital. Home to vibrant city streets and cultural establishments, this idyllic town is the ideal location to kick off an exciting island getaway.

@thetraveltauruss Cozumel Day Trip! Visit Cozumel on your next trip to Playa Del Carmen Mexico 🇲🇽! #thetraveltaurus #cozumel #playadelcarmen #visitmexico #visitcozumel #mrsanchoscozumel #allinclusive ♬ Check On It Bounce – arnett

Despite the new ban on horse tours, travelers can enjoy a range of nature-based activities, including snorkeling, diving, and ziplining, all offering different degrees of excitement. Some of the top Cozumel activities this spring include this hour-long thrilling zipline adventure.

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Data-Samtak Susan

Friday 1st of March 2024

Banning horse drawn carriages is counter productive. Don't you have more important things to be "protecting"?

The horse was brought to the Americas by the Spanish (an historic fact). Horses were used to one up lands, far and wide. Sharing the experience of a horse drawn ride through town is part of your history. What does a one hour zip line tour say about your destination? Only that you jumped on the current "entertainment for the masses". NOT that you are proud of your history.