April 6, 2024
Today´s Paper

Tulum’s Tourism Metamorphosis From Maya Ruins to Modern Retreats

TULUM, Mexico – Amidst a tapestry of urban development challenges, Tulum finds itself grappling with a range of issues, including oversights in the update of its Risk Atlas. A prevailing concern is the burgeoning saturation of vacation rentals, a phenomenon that now mirrors the scale of traditional hotel accommodations.

The latest data from the State Tourism Secretariat (Sedetur) reveals that Playa del Carmen reigns supreme as the premier tourist hub within the Mexican Caribbean for vacation rentals, boasting a staggering 14,295 active units. A close contender is Cancún, securing second place with a notable 11,421 units.

Nonetheless, Tulum has garnered the most substantial burden, housing a staggering 9,390 active vacation rentals as of August 4th this year. Remarkably, this figure equates to an astonishing 85% of the entire conventional hotel infrastructure. A comprehensive evaluation reveals that this encompasses 10,981 rooms dispersed across a network of 230 lodging establishments.

Collectively, the Mexican Caribbean boasts an impressive repertoire of 42,825 complete properties, encompassing both private and shared accommodations available through the vacation rental model. Rates for these accommodations span a spectrum, ranging from 266 pesos to an opulent 2,090 pesos.

Tulum's Tourism Metamorphosis From Maya Ruins to Modern Retreats

The meteoric rise of vacation rentals can be attributed to digital platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, OneFineStay, and HomeAway, which have emerged as frontrunners in facilitating short-term rentals while enabling property owners to reap profits three to four times higher than those garnered from long-term leases.

Intriguingly, Cozumel and Isla Mujeres emerge as strong contenders, boasting over a thousand active vacation rentals each. Meanwhile, Akumal, Puerto Morelos, Bacalar, Holbox, and Puerto Aventuras each flaunt an impressive inventory surpassing 500 properties within this category.

Conversely, Chetumal, Mahahual, and Felipe Carrillo Puerto linger beneath the threshold of 600 properties on offer through the vacation rental model across the Mexican Caribbean.

Sedetur’s insights shed light on the prevailing occupancy rates for these vacation rentals, revealing a general occupancy of 50%. Notably, the most sought-after locales include Holbox, Cancún, and Cozumel, each boasting occupancy rates exceeding a commendable 53%.

Tulum's Tourism Metamorphosis From Maya Ruins to Modern Retreats

Recent declarations from Nicanor Piña Ugalde, President of the Magical Towns Committee of Bacalar and a stalwart hotel industry entrepreneur, have brought to the forefront a concerning trend: the emergence of intermediaries, colloquially termed “coyotes,” subleasing these residences and adapting them for digital platform listings. This practice has sent shockwaves through the financial stability of formally established hotel entrepreneurs, inducing a potential loss of up to 20% in revenue.

Piña Ugalde elaborated on this phenomenon, illustrating how homeowners are engaging in significantly cheaper rentals, only for others to subsequently transform these spaces with rudimentary furnishings like mats and hammocks, and thereafter funneling guests through digital platforms.

The overarching implications are twofold, involving both a marked threat to officially sanctioned hoteliers and a broader risk in terms of civil protection and public health. As these structures lack the requisite infrastructure and sanitation provisions for visitor well-being, this competitive dynamic raises safety concerns.


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