International tourist numbers almost tripled in April compared to the same month last year but were still 35.8% below figures for April 2019.
Data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) shows that 2.32 million international tourists came to Mexico in April, a 199% increase compared to just over 777,000 visitors a year earlier, when much of the world was in lockdown.
The 2.32 million figure represents a decline of 1.3 million compared to April 2019, when 3.62 million international tourists visited.
The amount of money that foreign visitors spent while here also declined in April compared to the same month of 2019, although the figure was up a whopping 1,548% compared to April 2020.
Inegi data shows that tourists collectively spent US $1.18 billion in April, a 37.6% decline compared to the same month two years earlier when $1.89 billion flowed into the country. International tourists spent just $71.8 million in Mexico in April last year.
Inegi data also shows that 8.1 million international tourists came to Mexico in the first four months of 2021, placing this year’s visitor numbers on a par with those of eight years ago.
Visitor numbers have recovered strongly after last year’s sharp coronavirus-induced downturn in global tourism, but as the data shows, Mexico still has significant ground to make up to reach pre-pandemic levels.
Mexico doesn’t require incoming travelers to show negative Covid-19 test results or oblige them to quarantine on arrival, but many other countries do have such requirements, which serve to discourage international travel.
The president of the National Tourism Business Council told the newspaper El Financiero that such requirements are hampering the recovery of the tourism sector. Braulio Arsuaga also said that recovery in Mexico has been uneven. Beach destinations have seen an increase in tourists but business traveler numbers have remained low for 14 months, he said.
Alejandro Calligaris, Mexico manager of the booking site Despegar, told El Financiero that travel to and from some countries in the region is still difficult, a situation that has prevented a stronger recovery in 2021.
“… Traveling internationally in the region continues to be complex due to the current context [with regard to the pandemic] and the travel restrictions. In Chile, for example, they’re continuing to limit foreign travel; in Argentina, they’ve restricted international flights from several countries, including Mexico,” he said.
Calligaris expressed optimism that the tourism sector will continue to recover in the second half of the year but noted that an ongoing recovery will depend heavily on the lifting of travel restrictions and the rollout of vaccines in different countries around the world.
The Mexican tourism industry got a shot in the arm last week when the United States downgraded its travel advisory for Mexico to level 3, or “Reconsider travel” from level 4, “Do not travel.”
Despite that, the Department of State continues to warn against any travel to Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Tamaulipas and Sinaloa due to crime.
The advice rankled Sinaloa’s tourism minister, who declared that the northern state — home to the powerful Sinaloa Cartel — is “very safe” and ready to welcome visitors.
“… The reality is that Sinaloa is safe and you can walk calmly in the entire historic center of Mazatlán, Culiacán and Los Mochis without any problem. …. Sinaloa is very safe,” Óscar Pérez Barros said last week.
The tourism minister asserted that authorities are working to make Sinaloa even safer for both visitors and residents, adding that one sign of the confidence that exists about the state is the addition of new air routes to destinations such as Mazatlán.
United Airlines has added a direct flight from Houston to Mazatlán, Pérez said, adding that Canadian low-cost carrier Sunwing intends to fly eight times a week to the destination starting in October.