White sand and azure waters draw millions of tourists each year to Cancún but over half of the city’s residents only visit the beach once or twice a year, says an urban research organization.
A study conducted by Observatorio Urbano into the use of free time found that 30.4% of Cancún residents only go to the beach once a year while 29.4% go just once every six months.
Just 4.8% of residents go on a weekly basis.
The study also found that people aged 15-22 are the most frequent visitors followed by those in the 31 to 38-year-old bracket with members of the middle class most likely to visit, followed by the lower class.
Members of the lower middle class are the least likely to make it to the seaside.
“It’s relevant information,” says Observatorio Urbano researcher Celina Izquierdo.
“It’s a shocking fact that in Cancún we only go to the beach once a year. There will be people who consider it normal or insignificant because it’s right there, but that’s not the case. The first thing we have to ask ourselves is are our beaches really within reach of everyone?”
Izquierdo cites accessibility as the main reason locals don’t go to the beach.
Despite efforts to improve it, public transport is still inadequate with many families having to take two or more buses to get there. The journey is made even more difficult when transporting coolers, deck chairs and beach umbrellas.
If they do make it there, locals are often harassed by hotel security, which Izquierdo describes as “a nightmare.”
When she carried out an activity asking boys and girls to draw their surroundings and indicate how they wished they were, they didn’t think to include the sea.
“Nobody drew the sea,” Izquierdo said. “Although it seems surprising, a lot of girls and boys in Cancún don’t know the sea and it doesn’t form part of their imagination.”
Gaudencio Arias, originally from the State of México but a Cancún resident for 20 years, offers another reason.
“I think the main reason . . . is that we devote ourselves to work, work, work,” he says. “If you don’t work, there’s no way to pay your bills.”
Arias, who ironically works at a beachside hotel at Playa Delfines, is one of those who only visit the beach twice a year. While he enjoys showing off the natural wonders to family or friends when they visit from other states he finds it hard to find time in his work schedule to enjoy the beach with his wife and children.
“I love the beach and my children even more,” he says.
“They’d like to be here every week but there’s no way. On Sundays when they are at home, I work so how can I do it? Sometimes I have to change my schedule or ask for leave or a family member visits and we’re obliged to take them. That’s when we make the most of it.”
Figures from the Visitor and Convention Office show that 4 million tourists visited Cancún in 2016, 80% of them to enjoy the city’s beaches. During Easter Week alone, 300,000 domestic and international tourists visited the city, contributing an estimated $400 million to the local economy.
Source: El Universal (sp)