TULUM, Mexico – The countdown has begun for the inauguration of two federal infrastructure projects in Quintana Roo: the Tulum International Airport and the Maya Train. According to experts, these projects are poised to generate a significant tourism boost, resulting in an influx of international visitors and a diversification of transportation options in the region.
The Maya Train, initially announced by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in 2018, is nearing completion after a construction journey that began in Palenque, Chiapas, on December 16. The construction faced challenges, with changes in leadership at the National Tourism Development Fund (Fonatur) and the involvement of the National Defense Secretariat (Sedena) to address environmental concerns raised by conservation groups. Despite the hurdles, the Mexican government is gearing up for the train’s inauguration on December 15, with the southernmost segment, Tramo 5, set to open in February 2024.
The Tulum International Airport, named “Felipe Carrillo Puerto,” adds to this wave of infrastructure deliveries. Announced in October 2020 by President López Obrador, the airport is scheduled for inauguration on December 1, featuring eight confirmed domestic routes and the participation of four international airlines. Jesús Almaguer Salazar, president of the Association of Hotels in Cancún, Puerto Morelos, and Isla Mujeres, sees the airport as a positive development for the state, projecting a substantial economic impact and an influx of tourists from new markets, particularly Europeans and French travelers.
“The Tulum airport seems more suitable for charters and flights from Europe, given the type of hotels in the area and its proximity to Bacalar,” noted Almaguer. He emphasized that the new airport won’t disadvantage Cancún, and discussions with the Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASUR) indicate expectations of around three million users, utilizing the international flight routes.
Toni Chaves, president of the Riviera Maya Hotel Association, echoed Almaguer’s sentiments, emphasizing the positive impact of the Tulum airport on the entire region. Chaves anticipates increased tourist arrivals for both Cancún and Tulum, with international airlines likely to add an extra route to this new airport while maintaining existing ones in Cozumel, Cancún, and Chetumal.
As the Maya Train inches closer to completion, new railcars arriving for testing signal the beginning of a transportation diversification era in Quintana Roo. Guido Mendiburu Solís, director of the State’s Secretariat of Infrastructure, Communications, and Transportation (SICT), highlighted the significance of President López Obrador’s decree to nationalize passenger transportation through trains, providing the region with a trifecta of mobility options: road, air, and rail.
Mendiburu Solís noted that the train’s cargo service is particularly attractive to the tourism sector. The AHRM president, Toni Chaves, sees this as an opportunity for hotels to streamline the transportation of various supplies, ranging from meats and seafood to glassware and textiles. The train’s cargo service is expected to reduce costs and delivery times, offering a sustainable and efficient solution for the hotel industry.
As the infrastructure landscape in Quintana Roo evolves with the impending inauguration of the Tulum International Airport and the Maya Train, the region embraces a future where diverse transportation options converge to enhance mobility, boost tourism, and stimulate economic growth. The synergy between these projects signifies a new chapter for Quintana Roo, solidifying its position as a premier destination with enhanced accessibility and sustainability.