April 6, 2024
Today´s Paper

Tulum’s Tourism Takes Flight, Not Without Turbulence

TULUM, Mexico – As the Felipe Carrillo Puerto Airport in Tulum gears up for its inaugural international flight on March 28, 2024, the anticipated arrival of flights from major airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada, and Copa Airlines, promises a transformative shift for this vibrant tourist destination. Expected to cater to approximately 1 million passengers by the end of the year, Tulum is set to become a more accessible global hotspot, enhancing its appeal to a broader audience seeking the unique blend of cultural and natural treasures it offers.

Bernardo Cueto, the State Secretary of Tourism, has launched over twenty international and domestic routes from the new terminal, marking a significant milestone in Tulum’s aviation history. Starting in December, Discover, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, will also include European destinations, including a notable flight from Frankfurt, Germany. Thus, Tulum is poised for an unprecedented connectivity boost.

However, this bright horizon is shadowed by challenges on the ground. Local transport operators are voicing concerns over high operational costs imposed by the military-run airport administration. A contentious fee of 913 pesos for passenger pick-up and drop-off, coupled with an alleged misrepresentation of the fee as a parking service, has led to a boycott by several transport companies. The heart of the dispute lies in perceiving these charges as absurd and issuing receipts under a misleading category, sparking a debate on transparency and fairness in airport operations.

Tulum's Tourism Takes Flight, Not Without Turbulence

Roberto Rubio, President of the Mexican Association of Touristic Transporters, spearheaded a protest in February, highlighting the impracticality of operating in Tulum for many transporters based in Cancun or Playa del Carmen. The requirement of an extensive list of documentation further exacerbates the situation, prompting many transporters to withdraw their services from Tulum.

The standoff has affected approximately 1,000 touristic transportation units. Negotiations between transporters and airport officials, including Javier Diego Campillo and Aidé Mandujano Manzano, have reached an impasse. A proposed solution to lower the fee to a more manageable 20 pesos per service or 300 pesos for non-contracted services has yet to be accepted.

As Tulum stands at the cusp of a new era in tourism, resolving these ground transportation issues becomes crucial. The growth in air connectivity presents a golden opportunity to enhance Tulum’s position as a premier destination. Yet, the success of this venture hinges on the seamless integration of all elements of the tourist experience, from the sky to the ground.

Tulum's Tourism Takes Flight, Not Without Turbulence

With the local and international community watching closely, Tulum’s airport expansion’s unfolding narrative and implications for tourism and local businesses remain a topic of keen interest. As Tulum evolves, balancing growth with sustainability and equity will ensure that this jewel of the Riviera Maya continues to thrive, welcoming the world with open arms.


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