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Why This Highly Safe Region Near Cancun Is Breaking Tourism Records

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The Yucatan is the place to be for travelers to the Mexican Caribbean.

Supported by a number of factors, the sister region to the west of Cancun and Quintana Roo has been holding its own both domestically and internationally as a travel hotspot.

Record Tourism Levels in 2023

Charming Street in Merida, Mexico

Compared with pre-pandemic travel levels, the tourist count in the Yucatan is up nearly 18 percent with a record number of 2.4 million tourists last year.

That was supported last December by the highest passenger count ever for one month at the Merida International Airport.

During the entire year, the airport hosted 3.7 million passengers. That was a more than 19 percent increase over the year-ago and an amazing 50 percent lift over pre-pandemic passenger counted in 2018.

United Plane on departure

Additionally, the impact of tourism in the economy of the region also significantly increased over 2018 by more than 80 percent.

According to Michelle Fridman Hirsch with the Tourism Promotion Secretariat, there are two main reasons for the amazing growth in tourism in the Yucatan.

The first is the implementation of the brand-new Maya Train project across the entire region. This was then paired with the significant investment in tourism infrastructure at popular sites like Chichen Itza.

Engineers Working on the Maya Train

Maya Train Project

While the operation details of the Maya Train have had some hiccups for travelers early on in the process, the overall project has already spurred additional interest in tourism to parts of the Yucatan, which were a little challenging for travelers.

In fact, the popular Maya tourist site of Chichen Itza has been breaking visitor records, including the shattering of its one-day tickets sold record back on January 23.

tourists at the bottom of chichen itza pyramid with tour guide

The train has also made the popular tourist town of Merida easier for travelers to reach. Tourists either had to rent a car, hire a driver, or take a long bus ride to get to Merida from Cancun.

With the launch of the Maya Train, it’s a simple train ride to get from Cancun to Merida, although the travel time and departure schedule have been a little inconsistent. However, travelers don’t seem to matter too much so far.

Infrastructure Improvements

uxmal ruins

Funds have also been flowing to improve the overall facilities at many of the well-visited tourism sites across the Yucatan.

For example, archaeological sites such as Uxmal, Labná, and Sayil will enjoy new ticket offices, shopping areas, food offerings, and restrooms, among other amenities.

Again, travelers had to deal with hiccups in the process, as the lack of available restroom facilities during construction at the popular sites.

outside of the Great Palace, Sayil

However, the eventual completion of the PROMESA tourist program infrastructure improvements will greatly improve the overall tourist experience when visiting the Yucatan’s premier Mayan cities.

What Travelers Need to Know

While most travelers are familiar with Cancun, Tulum, Isla Mujeres, and Playa del Carmen in the Mexican Caribbean, they also need to add Merida to their list.

Merida sign outside famous church in Merida

Not only has the town been named by many travel magazines as one of the top travel destinations for 2024, but it also boasts the top safety travel rating from the United States Department of State.

The Level 1 recommendation for the Yucatan is the lowest threat rating from the Department of State and advises travelers to exercise normal precautions. Only one other state in Mexico matches the lowest threat level in the Yucatan – the State of Campeche.

The State of Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, is at travel advisory level 2 – exercise increased caution.

The next time travelers visit Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean, they should plan a train ride to Merida to enjoy the Yucatan and the new emerging travel hotspot in the region.

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