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Why This Highly Safe City Near Cancun Is Breaking Tourism Records

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The Mexican Caribbean is currently reveling in the success of 2023, a year that set tourism records with 33.7 million passengers reported across its four airports.

But it’s not just Cancun and The Riviera Maya, as Mérida city, in the neighboring state of Yucatán, is also joining in to celebrate a year of remarkable achievement.

Building in Merida, Mexico

Although the number of cruise ships arriving to Yucatán decreased slightly compared to 2022, the year’s end saw an increased influx of tourists arriving by air, according to the director of Regional Airports at Grupo ASUR, Héctor Navarrete Muñoz.

Mérida International Airport reached 3.7 million passengers, surpassing the figures from last year by an impressive 19%.

The positive numbers recorded in December were likely boosted by a wave of national tourists choosing Mérida, as Acapulco is still recovering from the damage of Hurricane Otis.

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Yet this is by no means the only reason Mérida and the broader Yucatán region are witnessing record-breaking visitor numbers, as there are a number of factors behind the region’s skyrocketing popularity.

Mérida City: A 2024 Travel Favorite

If you could travel back to when Cancun was founded, you’ll probably find yourself surrounded by people wearing high waisted jeans, as you’d be in 1970.

But if you were to travel back to when Mérida was founded, you’d probably find folk wearing literal armor, as it dates back to 1542, when it was established by Francisco Montejo y León.

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So, when you’re in a city that’s over 480 years old, you can be sure that there’s a lot to discover in terms of culture and history.

And to describe Mérida as a place rich in history and culture would be an understatement.

The city is known for its blend of Mayan and Spanish influences, reflected in its gorgeous architecture, vibrant traditions, and food – renowned as one of Mexico’s best.

It’s also a lively spot for art and culture, filled with museums, galleries, and plenty of cultural events. 

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These diverse experiences, added to the city’s laid back and friendly vibe, have put Mérida into the spotlight – even ranking among the most sought-after cities for tourism in 2024 by

However, the story doesn’t end here, as Mérida’s growing popularity can also be attributed to its exceptional safety levels.

The Safest City In Mexico

Safety is a crucial aspect of travel planning, as most travelers prefer their next getaway to not be their last.

And while Mexico stands as one of the most visited countries in the world, it’s also true that security levels on some destinations are still far from optimal – except for Mérida.

Merida church at nightfall

Not only is Mérida widely considered the safest city in the whole nation, but also in all of Latin America, largely thanks to the Yucatecan people’s cultural values of safety and community.

Cracking down on corruption and crime, a well-equipped and well-paid police force, and other initiatives by the local authorities have also contributed to the city’s remarkable safety levels.

Of course, taking common sense precautions is still encouraged, as indicated by the U.S. Travel Advisory for Yucatán.

central plaza in merida

Beyond Mérida

Travelers are not limiting their stay to this stunning colonial city, as destinations and attractions across the whole state of Yucatan are welcoming increasing numbers of visitors.

It’s easy to see why, as venturing beyond the city opens the door to a myriad of experiences, from swimming in one of the state’s 3,000 cenotes to exploring old henequen haciendas or Mayan archaeological sites.

The latter are particularly popular, with the iconic Chichen Itzá attracting unprecedented numbers of tourists last year, officially becoming the most popular archeological site nationwide.

Chichen Itza Mayan Archeological Zone

The Magical Towns of Valladolid and Izamal also skyrocketed in popularity in 2023, captivating travelers with their gorgeous colonial architecture, lush natural surroundings, and vibrant culture.

With the scheduled completion of the Maya Train at the end of February, reaching Mérida, all these hotspots and dozens of hidden gems in the Yucatan Peninsula will be more convenient than ever.

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