International travel has been all the range since the end of the health crises.
Mexico, and especially Cancun, has been a recipient of a significant part of the “revenge travel” trend.
In fact, Cancun welcomed nearly 1.9 million international travelers in the month of July alone. However, that was only a small 3.2 percent year-over-year increase compared with July in 2022.
The international traveler count at the airport in Cancun lagged the percent gain of another nearby destination that’s quickly growing in popularity with visitors from the United States.
More Than 16 Percent Increase
While Cancun had a small percentage jump in international travelers year-over-year from July 2022 to 2023, a large jump of more than 16 percent in passenger traffic took place at the Merida airport.
It should be noted that while the 28,440 international visitors using the Merida airport is much smaller than the 1.9 million at the Cancun airport, the positive passenger growth is still impressive.
Nearby Cozumel posted a 21 percent decrease in year-over-year international passenger counts when compared with July of 2022.
Overall, international passenger traffic at Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste airports in Mexico only increased 3 percent year-over-year. The largest jump was 40 percent at Oaxaca.
The Safest State in Mexico
Recently, the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System declared the State of Yucatan as the safest state in Mexico.
It has a rate 12 times lower than the national rate when it comes to homicides and an even lower number when it comes to four-wheeled vehicle thefts.
In fact, the Yucatan only had 0.90 cases of vehicle theft in June 2023 compared with the 36.54 national average.
It even ranked low on narcotraffic activity which is rapidly growing and expanding across Mexico.
Merida recently ranked the safest city in Latin America. It was second only to Quebec City in Canada for the safest city in North America.
Merida is the capital of the Yucatan state and is one of the largest cities in Southeast Mexico.
Unique Experiences in Merida
One main reason for the popularity of Merida as a travel destination for international visitors, especially those from the United States, is the many unique experiences available in the town.
For foodies, Merida offers some unique cuisine that is not commonly found other places in Mexico.
Drawing on the cuisine from many exotic locations, such as the Lebanese and Middle Eastern cultures, the food scene in Merida is unlike anywhere else.
Food tourists can enjoy plates such as Cochinita Pibil and Bul Keken. Other popular dishes reflect tropical flavors such as mango, coconut, tamarind, mamey sapote and plum.
Merida also is a popular destination for tourists for its cultural experiences and connections to the Mayans.
This trending travel trend has visitors to the area enjoying cultural dances, cooking methods, and even tours of traditional communities.
During these experiences, tourists can get some insight into the culture and history of these important local groups.
Popularity Set to Continue
With all of the different experiential opportunities available in Merida, along with the greater affordability of hotel rooms than Cancun, the popularity of the town as an international travel destination should only continue to increase.
What is holding back the popularity of the location is the limited number of United States airports with flights to Merida.
Currently, only American Airlines and United Airlines have direct flights to Merida from the United States.
American Airlines offers flights to Merida (MID) from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Miami (MIA). Meanwhile, United Airlines has nonstop flights from Houston-Intercontinental (IAH).
The visitor numbers in Merida, however, are expected to increase with the completion of the Maya Train network with connections to Cancun.
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