After going through their worst year in living memory in 2020, tourism businesses are hoping to recoup some of their losses during the Easter vacation period but beach closures in some destinations won’t help.
Average hotel occupancy across popular destinations in Semana Santa, or Holy Week, which starts in late March and extends into early April, is expected to be as high as 65%, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
More than 5 million international and domestic visitors are expected to descend on Mexican destinations and an economic spillover of more than 13.9 billion pesos (US $674.3 million) is predicted, the Confederation of Chambers of Commerce, Services and Tourism (Concanaco) said in a statement.
That would go some way to making up for estimated losses of more than 52 billion pesos during the Easter period last year when much of the world was in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Concanaco president José Manuel López Campos expressed confidence that the cancelation of travel from Canada due to the three-month suspension of flights from that country to Mexico will be compensated for by the arrival of people from the United States, some of whom have already been vaccinated against Covid-19 and are keen to resume international travel.
He also noted that none of Mexico’s 32 states are currently maximum risk red on the coronavirus stoplight map, asserting that will encourage Mexicans to go on vacation during the Semana Santa period. Magical towns, colonial cities and beach destinations all stand to benefit, López said.
However, some coastal destinations will have to attempt to attract visitors without the lure of their beaches as authorities in at least two states have said they will be closed over the Easter holiday to reduce the risk of new coronavirus outbreaks.
Baja California Sur (BCS) Health Minister Víctor George Flores said that beaches in that state, home to destinations such as Los Cabos, Loreto and La Paz, will be closed, while authorities in Navolato, Sinaloa, a coastal municipality near Culiacán, said the same.
Given that increases in coronavirus case numbers in states such as Guerrero and Quintana Roo were attributed to an influx of visitors over the Christmas-New Year vacation period, there is a possibility that more coastal destinations will follow the lead of BCS and Navolato and close beaches over Easter.
Patricia Segura Medina, a researcher at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases, warned that the Easter vacation period, along with a relaxation of health measures and the currently low vaccination levels, could trigger a third wave of infections.
“[With the] arrival of Semana Santa I have no doubt that people will want to go out again, … there’ll be fewer distancing restrictions [due to the reduced coronavirus risk level in many states] and crowds of people that could start a third wave,” she said at a recent conference.
Segura also noted that new strains of the coronavirus have been detected in Mexico, including ones shown to be more contagious. That only increases the risk of new outbreaks being seeded over Easter, she said.
The researcher called on the authorities to speed up the vaccination process, saying that at least 80% of the population will need to be inoculated before there is herd immunity against the virus.
According to a New York Times vaccinations tracker, only 1.6% of the Mexican population has received a vaccine dose and just 0.4% are fully vaccinated.