Monday, June 24, 2024

March was a historic month for tourism

A record high of almost two million international tourists flew into Mexico in March, government data shows.

The incoming passenger traffic was the highest ever for a single month and double the number of international tourists who flew into the country in March 2021.

Data published in an Interior Ministry migration statistics report shows that just under 1.99 million foreigners arrived at the nation’s airports in March.

The figure represents a 27% increase compared to February and a 35% jump compared to January. A total of 5.02 million international tourists flew into Mexico in the first three months of the year, an increase of 138.5% compared to the same period of 2021.

Humberto Molina, an economist at the consultancy firm Gemes who specializes in tourism, noted that it was the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic that a new monthly record for international arrivals was set.

tourists on beach in April 2022
The number of international tourists visiting Mexico has been consistently rising in 2022. March’s numbers were higher than February’s and equaled a 35% jump from January’s.

“It’s due to the extraordinary performance of the United States market,” he said.

United States citizens accounted for 66% of international air arrivals in March, up from 60% in pre-pandemic times. All told, 1.31 million Americans flew into Mexico in March, or over six times more than the number of Canadians, who made up the second largest cohort of international tourists.

While the influx of international visitors is a boon for the tourism sector, Molina described the heavy dependence on the U.S. market as a problem.

“Mexico is now more exposed to the United States, and it’s a problem to depend so much on one single market,” he said.

But as long as U.S. visitors continue streaming into the country, it’s likely that more monthly tourism records will be set.

Molina said it’s probable that a new record for international arrivals was set in April, for which federal data has not yet been published.

crime scene experts in Quintana Roo
Tourism has been rising in 2022 in Mexico’s most popular vacation destinations despite troubling crime incidents in places like Quintana Roo.

The entirety of Holy Week fell in April this year, driving up visitor numbers. Cancún airport had its busiest April ever last month with 2.6 million arrivals, an increase of almost 400,000 compared to the same month of 2019. That figure includes domestic passengers and Mexicans who arrived from abroad.

April was also a record month for the airports in the Pacific coast resort cities of Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.

Francisco Madrid, director of the Center of Research and Tourism Competitiveness at Anáhuac University in Mexico City, said it remains to be seen whether visitor numbers will remain high in the months ahead.

“We’ll have to see whether inflationary pressures and the reopening of other nations [to tourists] allow [us] to maintain … [these levels] in the coming months,” he said.

Molina said that new COVID outbreaks, inflation and higher interest rates – rates rose by 0.5% in the U.S. last week – could all affect the strong recovery of the Mexican tourism sector. However, he said that the biggest risk to the industry is insecurity.

Insecurity has risen in the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo, where numerous incidents of violence have occurred in recent months.

Homicide levels in Mexico remain at near-record highs, which hurts the overall perception of the country, but only a small fraction of the victims are resident foreigners or international tourists.

With reports from El Universal 

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