Quintana Roo recorded higher economic growth than China in 2016 and the second highest in Mexico, with strong tourist numbers behind the surge.
The state’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 7.6% last year, according to national statistics institute Inegi, whereas China’s economic growth slowed to its weakest pace in a quarter of a century to 6.7%. The state’s growth rate represents a 2.8% gain on 2015 numbers.
Only the small state of Aguascalientes recorded better 2016 growth than Quintana Roo, with 9.5%.
Growth in the latter was the highest since 2007 when the economy expanded by 10.6%. Last year’s figure is almost three times higher than that recorded for the Mexican economy as a whole, which grew by 2.7% in 2016.
Overall, the Quintana Roo economy contributed 1.6% of Mexico’s total 2016 GDP.
Often considered the jewel in Mexico’s tourism crown, Quintana Roo is home to popular vacation destinations including Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Tulum and boasts a total of 98,000 rooms across the state.
The director of the Faculty of Tourism at Anáhuac University believes that the impressive GDP growth in Quintana Roo is linked to an upturn in tourism across Mexico.
An increase in tourism offerings combined with maintained high occupancy levels and competitive hotel rates were behind the state’s improved economic performance, Francisco Madrid said.
Mexico overtook Turkey to become the world’s eighth most popular tourist destination, according to the World Tourism Organization, after it received 35 million visitors last year.
One dark cloud on the horizon, though, is that violence in Quintana Roo has increased in 2017 with National Public Security System statistics showing that statewide homicide numbers more than doubled in the first 10 months of this year compared to the same period last year.
Cancún has been particularly affected and the local president of the Mexican Employers’ Federation (Coparmex) said earlier this week that business owners in the city have been forced to allocate around 30% of their total budgets to security measures.
But despite fears that the violence would have a negative impact on tourist numbers, hotel occupancy is up one percentage point to 77.5% for the first 10 months of 2017 compared to 76.5% last year. Occupancy was also up in the Riviera Maya by three points to 83%, according to Tourism Secretariat (Sectur) statistics.
Madrid believes that those results translate into an expectation that Quintana Roo will also record strong economic growth in 2017.
Banorte senior economist Alejandro Cervantes agreed with Madrid that increased nationwide tourism was responsible for the growth in Quintana Roo. However, structural reform in public security is needed to guarantee visitors’ safety and ensure that the trend continues, he said.
“The security of foreign tourists is the factor that could really shatter the potential of tourism in the future,” he warned.
Just over half of all foreign tourists that came to Mexico last year spent time in Quintana Roo, according to Sectur, capturing the highest concentration of that market since such statistics were first recorded in 1992.
Source: El Universal (sp)