Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Are health protocols reassuring travelers? Mexico bookings lead other destinations

Mexico’s health and safety protocols appear to be inspiring confidence in travelers, making some feel even safer than they would at home. 

That’s the experience travel agent Jennifer Doncsecz had when she visited Cancún’s Hyatt Ziva. 

Although she was initially hesitant to make the trip, Doncsecz told Travel Weekly that by day 2 in Mexico “I actually had moments that I didn’t think about Covid — for the first time in 4 1/2 months. I was like, this is really bizarre, I’m not worried about it.” Doncsecz looks forward to her next trip south of the border on the Labor Day weekend. 

For Americans, Mexico has become the top post-quarantine destination among the relatively few countries that are accepting American tourists.

Tourism officials, resorts and local governments in Mexico have banded together to implement health protocols, and they are marketing those efforts in order to entice tourists to return.

And for some, the strategy is working. “All of our hotels are now at the maximum allowed occupancy,” said Armin Kaestner of the RIU Hotels chain. “It’s great and it’s not, because [allowable capacity] is only 30%.”

Kaestner reports RIU’s Mexican properties have twice the number of bookings as its properties in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Aruba and the Bahamas.

The Cancún-Riviera Maya region has registered the highest number of bookings, which is not surprising given it has the highest number of hotels in Mexico, but Los Cabos has led the highest tourism rebound on a percentage basis. 

“Little by little, things have been getting back to normal. It’s very interesting,” said Rodrigo Esponda of the Los Cabos Tourism Board.

Research shows that arrivals in Los Cabos in July were at 27% of their July 2019 levels, a dismal figure unless you compare it with Cancún, which is at 15%, or Puerto Vallarta which has 18% of the visitors it did last year. It is also a big comeback from April through June’s nearly non-existent numbers. 

While domestic travel within the United States tops the post-lockdown list, travel to Mexico comes in second. Ray Snisky of Apple Leisure Group Vacations says August’s Cancún bookings are down just 8% year over last year.

“There’s a real push for people saying, ‘Let me get on this trip before summer ends,'” Snisky says. “I think this close-in booking trend will continue into the fall, although I don’t think it will be as dramatic as in the summer.”

David Lavigne of Delta Vacations says Mexico’s appeal “is a very fluid trend at this point.” Airlines are transporting half the usual number of passengers and hotels are capped at 25% to 30%, but at least they, and most of their beaches, are open.

Source: Travel Weekly (en), National Geographic (sp)

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