Tourism sector revenue could decrease by US $782 million as a result of the three-month suspension of flights from Canada to Mexico, according to Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco.
In a statement issued by the Tourism Ministry on Sunday, Torruco said there could be up to 791,000 fewer tourists as a result of the coronavirus prevention measures announced by the Canadian government.
In addition to the suspension of flights between January 31 and April 30, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that all travelers entering the country will have to undergo Covid-19 PCR testing upon arrival at Canadian airports and go into quarantine at hotels for up to three days at their own expense.
The Canadian government said Friday that the mandatory quarantine requirement will start “as soon as possible in the coming weeks.”
Torruco said the cost of the new measures to the Mexican tourism industry could be less than estimated. The Canadian restrictions are similar to those imposed by the United States government and can be mitigated by Mexican airlines and hotels in tourist destinations offering Covid-19 testing to travelers before they return home.
However, it was unclear how Covid-19 testing in Mexico could make up for the hundreds of thousands of Canadian travelers who won’t arrive over the next three months.
Torruco also said that the new Canadian rules could reduce the flow of Mexican travelers to Canada by 372,000, costing that country US $368 million in lost revenue. Aeroméxico announced that it would suspend flights from Mexico to Canada from the second week of February until April 30
The coronavirus pandemic and associated restrictions had an outsized impact on the Mexican tourism industry in 2020 and hopes of a better 2021 have been thwarted by new rules put in place by several countries in light of the emergence of new, more contagious strains of the virus.
A United States rule requiring travelers to present a negative Covid-19 test before boarding flights to that country took effect last Tuesday. According to an executive order signed by United States President Joe Biden, people entering the U.S. are also required to followed Centers for Disease Prevention and Control guidelines and go into isolation for at least seven days.
Coronavirus restrictions and a reduced frequency of flights are also affecting travel to Mexico from European nations, Argentina and Cuba, among other countries. Mexicans cannot enter the EU for nonessential travel and people traveling to France, Spain and the Netherlands have to present a negative Covid-19 test before boarding flights.
The newspaper Milenio reported that Cuba is reducing flights to Mexico and several other countries to just one per week starting February 6 and Argentina has ordered airlines to reduce the frequency of flights to and from Mexico, Brazil, the United States and Europe.
The expected decline in international arrivals is a double-edged sword for Mexico. While fewer tourists is in one respect welcome because it inevitably means fewer cases of the coronavirus are imported, the reduction in visitor numbers also means lower or no income for the millions of people who work in the tourism sector, which before the pandemic contributed to almost 10% of GDP.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned that Canada’s suspension of flights could not only affect Mexico but cause a “profound economic crisis” in North America.
Mexico is currently confronting a dual economic and health crisis, with GDP falling 8.5% in 2020 and confirmed coronavirus case numbers approaching 2 million.
As of Monday, 13 states are maximum risk red on the federal government stoplight map, meaning that their economies will function well below capacity for at least the first half of February. Seventeen states are high risk orange on the map while just two – Campeche and Chiapas – are medium risk yellow.
Mexico’s accumulated case tally increased to 1.86 million on Sunday with 7,030 new cases registered while the Covid-19 death toll rose to 158,536 with 462 additional fatalities.
On Saturday, there were 15,337 new cases and 1,495 additional deaths.
Source: Milenio (sp)