TULUM, Mexico – In an unexpected turn of events at the Tulum International Airport, Francisco Hernández García, a driver for a tourist transportation company, faced a surprising demand for an “occasional access” fee by members of the National Defense Secretariat (Sedena). Tasked with picking up a group of tourists from Monterrey, García was stopped before he could depart, with military personnel demanding a fee of 934 pesos for entering the premises. Unprepared for such a request, García, who had no cash at hand, found himself in a predicament that not only delayed his schedule but also exposed a broader issue affecting the local tourism industry.
The incident shines a light on the lack of clear signage or notification regarding federal zone usage fees at the airport, a factor that took García and, presumably, others by surprise. The high fee, significantly impacting the transportation service’s profitability, ultimately burdens the tourists, forcing operators to hike prices to maintain margins. In a gesture of goodwill and to avoid further conflict, the Monterrey tourists covered the fee, a cost deducted from García’s service charge.
The disparity in access fees between Tulum and other regional airports, such as Cancún, where the fee is a mere 30 pesos per vehicle, has drawn criticism from industry representatives. Roberto Rubio, president of the Quintana Roo Mexican Association of Tourist Transporters, highlighted this inconsistency, questioning the sustainability of such high charges for the sector.
Adding to the chorus of concerns, the Tulum Hotel Association has voiced its worries about mobility issues at the airport. The association’s president, David Ortiz Mena, emphasized the airport’s potential to boost tourism but pointed out the urgent need to address the current transportation challenges. With complaints from tourists about high transfer costs and limited options, there’s a pressing call for more competitive and market-aligned pricing. The situation is set to become even more critical with the expected arrival of international flights from the United States in March, promising an influx of visitors.
To tackle these issues head-on, hoteliers are seeking dialogue with Quintana Roo’s governor, Mara Lezama Espinosa, hoping to leverage her federal connections for a resolution. The aim is to adjust the fee structure to better reflect market rates and ensure the airport’s role in promoting Tulum as a destination remains positive.
This incident and the broader mobility concerns have put a spotlight on the need for a comprehensive review of transportation policies at Tulum International Airport. With the imminent increase in international traffic, stakeholders are calling for an expansion and diversification of transport services to cater to the growing tourist population, ensuring Tulum remains an attractive and accessible destination.
As Tulum prepares to welcome a surge in international visitors, the resolution of these issues will be critical in maintaining the destination’s reputation and ensuring that tourists’ first and last impressions of the region are positive. The ongoing discussions with governmental officials represent a crucial step towards a sustainable and tourist-friendly transportation ecosystem in Tulum.