Canada’s three-month suspension of flights to Mexico will inflict further pain on the ailing Mexican tourism industry, which suffered its worst year in living memory in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and associated restrictions.
A report by the newspaper Milenio gives an idea of the impact the suspension of flights from Canada – Mexico’s second largest source country for tourists after the United States – will have on the tourism sector by looking at a range of statistics about Canadians’ travel habits during the past two years.
According to the Ministry of Communications and Transportation (SCT), 3.67 million air travelers from Canada came to Mexico in 2019, an average of about 306,000 per month. As a result of the pandemic, the number fell 50.6% in 2020 to 1.81 million, an average of about 151,000 Canadian tourists per month.
Based on an average of those statistics, Mexico will miss out on tourism revenue from some 685,500 Canadians who could have been expected to travel here if flights weren’t suspended between January 31 and April 30.
Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco said last week there could be up to 791,000 fewer tourists as a result of the coronavirus prevention measures announced by the Canadian government, which also includes mandatory hotel quarantine for people entering Canada, and that tourism sector revenue could drop by US $782 million.
However, statistics published by Milenio suggest that the number of Canadian travelers who don’t come to Mexico between February and April will in fact exceed 1 million. Canadian airlines brought 1.48 million passengers between February and April 2019 and 1.05 million in the same period of 2020 even as the coronavirus was spreading around the world.
The flight suspension affects the most popular month for travel to Mexico from Canada as well as the fourth and fifth most popular months.
SCT data shows that Canadian airlines brought almost 557,000 passengers here in March 2019 and just over 539,000 in January of the same year. December was the third most popular month for Canada-Mexico travel with more than 537,000 passengers followed by February and April with just under 524,000 and about 403,500, respectively.
Four of the five Mexican destinations that will be most affected are coastal resort cities. Cancún, Quintana Roo, received more than 331,000 passengers from Canadian cities last year – a 63% decline compared to 2019 – while the Mexico City airport ranked second with more than 180,000.
The third most popular destination was Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, where almost 134,000 travelers touched down in 2020. Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, ranked fourth with more than 53,000 travelers from Canada, while Huatuclo, Oaxaca, ranked fifth with 19,500 Canadian arrivals.
As Torruco indicated, Mexico is set to miss out on hundreds of millions of dollars of tourism revenue during the three-month flight suspension. Canadians spent US $1.33 billion here in 2019, a figure that accounted for 6.3% of tourism revenue. Canadians spent an average of $1,084 while in the country, 22% more than the average tourist.
The Mexican government has called for the suspension to be lifted as soon as possible in order to prevent “a profound economic crisis in the North American region” but it appears extremely unlikely that Canada, which also placed a halt on travel to Caribbean countries, will make any changes as new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus remain a threat to public health.
The United States’ requirement for incoming travelers to present a negative Covid-19 test result and quarantine on arrival also deals a blow to the tourism sector in Mexico but air travel between the neighboring countries remains active.
Source: Milenio (sp)