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Why This Super Safe City Near Cancun Is Breaking Tourism Records This Year

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For decades, the Mexican Caribbean was pretty much synonymous with resort towns such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen in the Quintana Roo State.

However, in recent years, a hidden gem has quietly been gaining popularity among tourists: Mérida, the capital city of the neighboring Yucatán State.

Street in Mérida on an afternoon with a church and a park

This year, Mérida’s International Airport achieved a historic milestone, experiencing its highest-ever October in terms of passenger numbers. 

The airport welcomed a total of 320,679 passengers, as reported by Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASUR).

This notable achievement represents a significant 5.4% increase compared to October 2022, a year that, by the way, had already surpassed the previous 2.8 million record set in 2019 by reaching 3 million visitors.

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But what’s truly impressive is that this year Mérida’s airport has once again outdone itself, as the total passenger movement has already reached 3,029,767, marking a  24.5% increase compared to the same period in 2022.

So, if you’re curious to discover the reasons behind Mérida’s skyrocketing popularity, read on!

Authentic Cultural Experiences

Offering a refreshing alternative to more ‘touristy’ resort destinations, Mérida boasts a rich cultural and historical heritage marked by a blend of Mayan and Spanish influences.

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From the historic center’s beautiful cobblestone streets and colonial-style buildings to the European architecture of the elegant Paseo de Montejo, an exploration of Mérida provides deep insights into the city’s colonial past.

The indigenous Mayan heritage is notably woven into the fabric of the city, evident in its cultural events, traditions, local craftsmanship, art, and language.

But perhaps the prime example of this distinctive cultural fusion is the iconic San Ildefonso Cathedral of Mérida, built using stones from an ancient Mayan temple.

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Not to mention Yucatán’s legendary cuisine, with dishes like cochinita pibil (marinated pork) and papadzules (tortillas filled with pumpkin seed sauce) showcasing this culinary diversity.

The best place to start your exploration is the city’s historic center, where you’ll find a variety of museums, art galleries, theaters, cafes, bars, hotels, restaurants, and more.

And to get a taste of Mérida’s rich culture, visit the newly designated ‘Magical Neighborhoods,’ Xcalachén, La Ermita, and San Sebastián, renowned for their stunning architecture, deep cultural traditions, and authentic local feel.

The Safest City In Mexico

Beyond its vast cultural offerings and tourist attractions, Mérida stands out as the safest city in the country and even in Latin America.

merida polceman

Needless to say, in Mexico, a nation that still grapples with significant security issues overall, Mérida sticks out like a sore thumb. 

So, why is that exactly?

According to Governor Mauricio Vila, initiatives such as relying on local police rather than federal forces, paying them competitive salaries (who would have guessed?), and providing them with proper tools and technologies are some of the top reasons.

Yet, Mérida’s outstanding security is not solely the result of official measures. The friendly and warm nature of the locals contributes significantly, creating an environment where the city consistently exudes a relaxed and quiet ambiance.

merida night time

However, it’s essential to remember that no city is 100% safe, so taking common-sense safety precautions remains crucial to avoid falling victim to scams and petty thefts.

Increased Air Connectivity

Currently, Yucatán is actively expanding its air connectivity, with the recent announcement of new international flights from the U.S., namely Orlando and Miami.

Mérida’s international airport is already linked through several domestic routes, from cities such as Guadalajara, Monterrey, Mexico City, and with more connections planned for the near future.

And for international flights, the airport has eight international routes to destinations like Houston, Miami, Dallas, and Oakland in the U.S., Toronto in Canada, and more.

Airplane Landing in the sky getting ready to land in Cancun at Cancun International Airport.

This strategic initiative aims to attract more visitors to explore the diverse cultural, historical, and natural attractions that Mérida and the entire Yucatán region have to offer.

So, given the current record-breaking number of tourists, it seems like it’s working like a charm.

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