TULUM, Mexico – Quintana Roo, the picturesque Mexican state known for its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and natural beauty, is poised for a significant leap forward in the global tourism landscape. The State Tourism Secretariat (Sedetur) is placing its confidence in federal government initiatives that promise to modernize the region, making it a standout destination for international tourists.
Bernardo Cueto Riestra, the Secretary of Tourism for Quintana Roo, expressed his delight in the transformative projects currently underway. These initiatives include the construction of the Nichupté Lagoon bridge, the monumental Tren Maya railway, and the upcoming Tulum International Airport. In 2023, with the declaration of the COVID-19 health crisis officially over, travelers worldwide are regaining their confidence to explore, making Quintana Roo a top choice.
Recently, during the International Magical Towns Fair held in Los Angeles, USA, a showcase of Quintana Roo’s tourism, culture, and cuisine took center stage. Secretary Cueto delivered a presentation titled “Magical Towns of Quintana Roo,” seizing the opportunity to emphasize the state’s potential as a Mexican Caribbean tourist hotspot.
Cueto emphasized that Quintana Roo boasts four Magical Towns: Isla Mujeres, Tulum, Bacalar, and Cozumel, with the latter being the most recent addition. “Each of these towns carries rich traditions and histories; we are more than just sun and beaches. Our Magical Towns offer a different kind of experience that many travelers seek,” Cueto asserted.
In an exciting revelation, it was disclosed that Cozumel, the newest Magical Town, holds the top position for cruise ship arrivals in Mexico and the Caribbean. Cueto stated, “If someone takes a cruise from Miami, it’s likely to pass through Cozumel or Mahahual. We aim to convert these numbers into increased opportunities for areas that have long awaited the benefits of tourism.”
Cueto also highlighted Quintana Roo’s excellent air connectivity, currently boasting three international airports. A fourth airport, the Tulum International Airport, is well underway and is set to commence operations by year-end. This achievement will make Quintana Roo the only Mexican state with four operational international airports.
Edmundo Gómez-Trejo, Bacalar’s historian, presented an exhibition titled “The Maya, the Salamanca Town: Past and Present,” shedding light on Bacalar’s history. Bacalar, renowned for its seven-colored lagoon, has been inhabited for 16 centuries since the arrival of the Itzáes, who named it Siyan Kan Bak´Jalal, meaning “Place surrounded by reeds.” After the Spanish arrived in 1531, they successfully conquered the settlement in 1544, renaming it Villa de Salamanca de Bacalar. Today, Bacalar is a municipality with 58 thriving communities.
Anticipating Low Hotel Occupancy in October
While September and October typically mark the off-peak tourist season in Quintana Roo, this year appears to be experiencing an even more pronounced decline. Hoteliers report falling short of their summer season expectations, and the lack of travelers in October is expected to exacerbate this trend.
Cancún’s hotel reservation books reveal a continued decrease in bookings for October, following a period where occupancy rates hovered between 60% and 70% in September. This decline is attributed to travelers preparing for the winter season, which traditionally sees a higher number of vacationers.
Jesús Almaguer Salazar, President of the Hotel Association of Cancún, Puerto Morelos, and Isla Mujeres, noted that domestic tourism has been sustaining current occupancy levels. However, American tourists have not shown a significant resurgence, possibly due to factors such as fluctuating exchange rates and lingering travel advisories, which, despite being rescinded, leave a temporary stain on tourist destinations.
Ongoing conflicts involving taxi drivers, primarily in Cancún, have further deterred tourists and raised safety concerns. Incidents involving attacks on ride-sharing drivers, including tourists, have been reported.
Almaguer Salazar predicts that Canadian tourists will not arrive until November, potentially sparking a resurgence in the number of vacationers. In the meantime, efforts will focus on bolstering promotional campaigns in key source markets, including the United States and South American countries.
“We need to optimize and direct the Quintana Roo Tourism Promotion Council’s efforts with pinpoint accuracy towards markets that yield the highest tourist influx,” emphasized the hotel industry leader.
He also expressed hope for the swift reinstatement of electronic visas for the Brazilian market, as Brazil is another crucial source of tourists for Cancún. The cancellation of this visa led to the disappearance of five direct routes between the Mexican Caribbean and Brazil.