United States citizens flocked to Mexico in May as high Covid-19 vaccination rates in the U.S. spurred international travel.
Just over 970,000 Americans arrived on flights last month, a record for May, according to the Center of Research and Tourism Competitiveness at Anáhuac University.
The figure accounted for 83% of all international air arrivals last month and represents a whopping 4,117% increase compared to May 2020, when just 23,000 U.S. tourists came to Mexico. It’s 9% higher than May 2019, when 891,000 United States tourists flew into the country, and 13% higher than the same month of 2018, when U.S. visitors numbered 857,000.
Virginia Messina, senior vice president at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and a former Mexican government tourism official, said that high vaccination rates in the United States are aiding the recovery of Mexico’s tourism sector.
About 63% of adults in the United States have received at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, while the figure in Mexico is about 35%.
Messina said flight bookings show that foreign arrivals to Mexico during the summer will be close to 2019 levels.
“Looking at air reservations into the country between June and August of 2021 compared to [the same months of] 2019, we’re more or less at … 86%, which is very significant. When we look at different regions of Europe, for example, [flight] reservations are about 40% [of 2019 levels],” she told a press conference.
International travel to Mexico has been encouraged by the absence of restrictions for arriving visitors, who don’t have to provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test result or go into mandatory quarantine.
Messina said that the WTTC expects other countries to ease restrictions on travelers. The European Union, for example, is set to begin welcoming United States tourists who can prove they have had an E.U.-approved vaccine, among which are the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots.
“We don’t expect borders to close again because we’re not where we were a year ago,” Messina said, although the pandemic is considerably worse in some countries where vaccination rates are low and more contagious strains of the virus are circulating.
“Today, not only have vaccines helped, the Covid-19 testing technology has as well. [Testing] was more difficult a year ago, today it’s faster and the results are as well. We’ll treat Covid-19 like the flu at the end of the year,” she said.
The WTTC official played down the impact insecurity might have on Mexico’s tourism recovery, noting that the problem has persisted for years but international visitors have continued to come. Insecurity is not a major problem in many popular tourist destinations, Messina said.
The United States government is currently warning U.S. citizens not to travel to five states – Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas — due to crime and kidnapping, while there are 11 level 3 “Reconsider Travel” states including Jalisco, where the resort city of Puerto Vallarta is located, and Guanajuato, home to popular expatriate and tourism destinations such as Guanajuato city and San Miguel de Allende.
Quintana Roo, where Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Tulum are located, and Baja California Sur, home to Los Cabos, are among 14 Level 2 “Exercise increased caution” states, while Yucatán and Campeche, both of which are also popular with tourists, are the only states deemed Level 1, or “Exercise normal precautions.”
With reports from El Economista