For decades Cancun has been the favorite foreign destination for Americans hunting for a beach vacation, and traveler numbers here have been on an upward trajectory since the first resort opened its doors.
Each year millions of Americans make this sun-seeking pilgrimage, and up until now, the arrivals have followed an almost “set-in-stone” routine when it comes to visitor numbers.
Cancun has traditionally seen 3 seasons:
High Season: December – April.
Shoulder Season: April – May and October – November.
Low Season: June – October.
But Cancun is changing, and the destination is now becoming a year-round destination that is shedding its seasonal popularity.
Here’s why it’s happening, and what this means for tourists.
Build It And They Will Come
To borrow the famous misquote from Field of Dreams (or Wayne’s World, depending on your generation), if you build it, they will come.
That mantra can safely be applied to Cancun. The destination seems to show no signs of slowing in terms of building resorts, attractions, and everything in between to give travelers a near-endless choice of experiences and entertainment.
On top of this, the now year-round schedule of direct flights to cities all over the United States, as well as the same jam-packed approach to marketing the destination to Cancun-starved Americans, has led to the high season getting longer each year.
Another important point, and one that can sometimes make our vacation decisions for us, is cost.
Life continues to get more expensive each year in the United States. Regardless of politics, I’m sure most can agree on that point.
Of course, it isn’t just Americans who must deal with that reality; it’s a situation seen across the Western world.
And while Mexico hasn’t been free of price increases, it has been a lot less dramatic in the nation, and despite the current fear over currency exchange rates between the US Dollar and the Mexican Peso, Americans are still receiving a great deal.
For example, the current exchange rate (as of Oct 3rd 2023) is $1 = 17.89 MXN. Which, against the April 2020 high of $1 = 24.97 MXN, can seem like a worrying drop.
But the breaking of the 20 MXN barrier was a short-lived situation during the pandemic; comparing historically, the US Dollar is still in a very healthy place, and Americans are still in a fantastic position to get plenty of bang for their buck in the much cheaper economy of Mexico.
What this means is that Cancun is still one of the best destinations worldwide for Americans, and that is being reflected in the popularity of Cancun. Which now is transitioning to a year-round vacation destination.
These are just two of the many reasons for this change. But what’s more important than why it’s happening is what it means for Americans:
When a destination becomes a year-round draw, the pricing of things like resorts and day trips normally goes one of two ways.
The first possibility is that the changing travel habits of many travelers can help stabilize price increases or even reverse them in some instances.
As the low season disappears and resorts become busy year-round, these businesses won’t need to be as aggressive with price increases to protect their running costs and profits.
This would be a big win for travelers who have seen their purchasing power back home reduced. This is the most positive possible outcome and the one everyone hopes for.
The second possibility, and the one everyone has their fingers crossed won’t happen, is that the price increases continue as they are and leak into the traditionally cheaper months for a vacation in Cancun.
While this is for sure a possibility, it’s hoped that the super competitive landscape of tourism in Cancun means that the scramble to win over Americans during these traditionally low season months means that the deals will keep coming, and costs won’t shoot up.
Which of these possibilities will come to pass is anyone’s guess right now currently price drops during the low season months are still in place across booking sites, and we may need to wait a year or 2 to really see the effect of this change.
Crowds And Other Destinations
Another area that is no doubt going to feel this change is the level of crowding.
While Cancun is far from being overpopulated, even in the high season, travelers who favor Cancun’s quieter vibe during the low season may not be totally thrilled at this news.
Thankfully, you don’t need to travel far to rediscover the feeling of a calmer destination.
Dotted along the coast south of Cancun, there are many fantastic alternative destinations that will be ready to welcome the more peaceful, atmosphere-loving Americans.
Places like Puerto Morelos, Akumal, and even Playa del Carmen are fantastic alternative choices if the new face of the low season in Cancun no longer fits with what travelers are searching for on their vacation to the Mexican Caribbean.
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