The Spanish hotel chain Riu announced on Thursday that it will temporarily close many of its hotels in Mexico due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting downturn in tourism.
Among the hotels set to close effective March 23 are the Lupita, Tequila, Playacar and Palace México hotels in the Riviera Maya region of Quintana Roo as well as the Dunamar property on Costa Mujeres north of Cancún.
Riu said in a statement that other hotels will “gradually” close “depending on occupancy needs.“
The chain, which has 20 properties with more than 11,500 rooms in Mexico, said that its hotels currently have very low occupancy levels and therefore it has to adjust to “the reality of the market at this time.”
Riu employs more than 10,000 people in Mexico, many of whom appear set to be laid off, at least temporarily.
According to a report by the tourism news website Reportur, other Spanish chains that operate hotels in Quintana Roo are also planning month-long closures.
Lenin Amaro Betancourt, president of the Riviera Maya branch of the Business Coordinating Council, said that hotel cancellations are already up 40% over normal levels and that he expects the situation to worsen as Covid-19 continues to spread around the world and more countries close their borders.
He called for financial support from all three levels of government to help tourism-oriented businesses maintain as much of their workforces as possible.
Authorities in Cancún, where hotel occupancy has plummeted this week, have announced that movie theaters, bars, nightclubs, casinos and other venues that bring together large numbers of people will be temporarily closed to limit the spread of coronavirus, which had sickened 164 people in Mexico as of Thursday and killed at least one.