With the coronavirus threat on the wane, tourists flocked to destinations across Mexico this long weekend, bringing much-needed revenue to a sector that has been hit hard by the pandemic and associated restrictions.
Beach resorts such as Cancún and Acapulco, colonial cities including Taxco and Zacatecas and some lesser known destinations all saw an influx of tourists for the March 19-21 puente, an annual long weekend to mark the anniversary of the birth of former president Benito Juárez.
Hotel occupancy in the Quintana Roo destinations of Cancún, Puerto Morelos and Isla Mujeres was above 85%, according to the local hotel association, while the state Tourism Ministry reported that more than 400,000 tourists were visiting the Caribbean coast.
There were 573 incoming and outgoing flights at the Cancún airport on Sunday, including 210 international arrivals, the newspaper El Universal reported.
The Guerrero Tourism Ministry reported that hotel occupancy was above 77% in Acapulco on Sunday, while occupancy was 1% higher in Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa at 78.3%. The occupancy rate in Taxco, a colonial city with a rich silver mining history, was 72.6%, the ministry said on Twitter.
The Oaxaca Tourism Ministry said that at least 50,000 visitors were expect to descend on Puerto Escondido, Huatulco and Oaxaca city. It predicted an injection of some 184 million pesos (US $9 million) into the local economy.
In Guanajuato, visitors flocked to the Santuario de Cristo Rey, a religious precinct in the municipality of Silao.
“It’s a sea of people,” José Cruz Luna, a volunteer, told El Universal. A seminarian told the newspaper that it was the biggest crowd seen at the site since the start of the pandemic.
Domestic and international tourists were among the visitors. Ramón, a seller of traditional sweets, said that he and other vendors were benefiting from the influx.
Farther north, the state of Zacatecas reported the arrival of more than 7,000 tourists for the long weekend. They were expected to spend some 23 million pesos (US $1.1 million) in the northern state, tourism authorities said.
Some of the visitors were attending “destination weddings,” the Tourism Ministry said. Others enjoyed attractions in Zacatecas city such as museums, churches, the cable car, the El Edén mine and the pretty streets of the historic center.
Among the other destinations that saw significant numbers of visitors were Playa Miramar, a beach in Ciudad Madero, Tamaulipas, and the Tula archaeological site in Hidalgo.
Carlos Rodríguez, his wife and their two children traveled more than 500 kilometers from Monterrey to visit the Tamaulipas coast. Authorities in Hidalgo were expecting a total of approximately 10,000 visitors over the weekend at the Tula site, which features Atlantean columns atop a pyramid.
Federal Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco said in a statement earlier this month that 2.7 million Mexicans were expected to travel within the country for the long weekend. He also said that 1.42 million tourists, including foreigners, were expected to stay at hotels, a figure that equates to 84.6% of 2019 numbers for the March long weekend. The nationwide hotel occupancy rate was predicted to be 55.8%, which would represent an increase of almost 20 points compared to last year.
Torruco anticipated that spending on accommodation over the long weekend would add up to more than 3.8 billion pesos and that the total outlay on tourism-related services would be 41.6 billion pesos (just over US $2 billion).