Cancun’s growth has slowed, forecasts upbeat
Total rooms have topped 48,000 with
14,000 more underway; Eight
million visitors and 80,000 rooms projected by year 2020.
and Riviera Maya, on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, are feeling the impact of the
Sept. 11 (9-11) terrorist attacks in the U.S., but its tourism industry is
projected continued phenomenal growth for the next 20 years.
day Cancun’s newspapers report the vital signs of its tourism industry
compiled by the Hotel Association of Quintana Roo, the state in which its
located. The forecasts of a year ago (CB Feb. 8, 2001) were pretty well achieved
although there were contractions in arrivals from the U.S. after the 9-11
room inventory now stands at 26,024 and Riviera Maya’s 17,959 for a grand
total of 44,023. Last week overall occupancy stood at 62%, down 14%
compared with 79% a year earlier. Although Riviera Maya’s occupancy was
65% some of its hotels reported drops of 17% to 20% compared with
January 2001. Occupancy in Cancun, on the other hand, was 60% compared
with a year earlier with the contractions averaging between 15% and 20%.
Roo hoteliers spoken to reported that December was rough, because of the
declining arrivals, but that it was better than they had expected because of an
increase in Mexican tourists. It still ended the year with three million
visitors spending more than $4 billion and generating 35% of Mexico’s total
Cancun miracle is only 26 years old and since its origin then as a sleepy little
village, it has growth into one of the biggest destinations in the Caribbean.
The Dominican Republic (D.R.), with 54,000 rooms, is ahead of right now but by
the end of this year Cancun will overtake it when 14,000 more rooms, presently
under construction or to get underway, become available.
role in regional tourism figured prominently in the recent annual Marketplace of
the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) hosted by Quintana Roo and attended by
destination, variety of attractions
imagine finding a catalogue in a travel agency, dedicated exclusively to the
Caribbean,” said Quintana Roo Governor Joaquin Henricks, in welcoming the
delegates. “With all the options in Jamaica, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico Havana,
Santo Domingo, Cancun and Cozumel, to mention just a few of the jewels of the
Caribbean; as well as information about different foods as well as rates, flight
information, trips and excursions. A single super tourism destination with a
variety of attractions and accessible from any airport in the world.”
delegates from other parts of the region responded
enthusiastically to Henricks promotion of the multi-destination concept.
“I’m convinced Mexico is destined to perform a leadership role in promoting
the Caribbean as a whole region as one of the world’s major tourism
destinations,” said Dominican hotelier Simon Suarez, the CHA president-elect.
master plan for the development of tourism in Quintana Roo for the next 20 years
is projecting that by the year 2020 the state will welcome eight to ten million
visitors and the total inventory will reach 80,000 rooms. This tremendous growth
has not been without costs.
newest state in Mexico, sparsely populated Quintana Roo now has 1.5 million
inhabitants and heading for two million. As thousands of Mexicans have flocked
into the state from elsewhere because of the boom it has created considerable
strains with a housing shortage of over 60,000 units, for example.
the growth has come a myriad of problems. While the hotels zones are immaculate
and crime-free, other areas inhabited by locals are experiencing upsurges
in crime, narcotics, prostitution and other types of social afflictions which in
turn have spawned corruption with the last governor presently in jail facing
trial for drug trafficking and money laundering.
addition, there is growing concern among local environmentalists as well as
their supporters abroad over the cost of uncontrolled growth. Recently a massive
resort in Riviera Maya, undertaken by Melia, was stopped by court order because
its site is a turtle breeding area.
its large room inventory, Cancun and Maya Riviera take business from where ever
they can find it. Because of various changes in the market this results in
fluctuations in arrivals. The region is very popular with spring breakers but
their bookings are down by 20,000 but they are still planning to welcome 70,000
with over 50% of those already deposited. Last year they projected 110,000
spring breakers but ended up with 90,000.
decrease is attributed to the deteriorating U.S. economic situation and the
continued fear of flying by some people.
category of business registering decline is the Japanese which hoteliers in
Cancun love because they come a great distance and are good spenders. Before
9-11 they were averaging 1,000 a month their totals have plunged 80% with only
200 a month arriving now. Japan is experiencing a prolonged recession which has
resulted in Japanese staying close to home.
ship arrivals jumping
area of particular growth which has Quintana Roo heartened is the growth in
cruise ship arrivals in Quintana Roo ports. The state, which is forecasting two
million cruise passengers, is reporting that cruise lines have booked over 200
calls by 46 new ships.
are very optimistic about the future of our cruise business because Royal
Caribbean is expanding all of its sailings out of such U.S. ports as Galveston,
Houston, Mobile, New Orleans and Tampa,” said Javier Guillermo, agent for
major cruiselines. “The Mexican Riviera is ideally situated to welcome these
ships. Now in May we will be pleased to receive Disney Cruises at Cozumel for
the first time.”
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