Every year, tens of thousands of young people from the United States, Canada, and some Asian countries come, for a few days, to the clear waters of the Mexican Caribbean to celebrate the “spring break”, a vacation leaving millions of dollars for the local tourism industry and an almost total hotel occupancy.
But fears and restrictions about the coronavirus outbreak are already causing cancellations, and hoteliers fear it is the harbinger of a bleak year for tourism, an industry that contributes more than 8% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and that It employs 2.3 million people.
“Since practically all (spring breakers) come from the North American market, they accept the provisions that the United States has issued and, therefore, the reduction is obvious,” said Marisol Vanegas, Secretary of Tourism of Quintana Roo, the state where there are busy destinations such as Cancun, Cozumel, Holbox, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.
Before the governments of the United States and Mexico decided to close – from the weekend – the land border for non-essential travel, including tourism, the first cancellations had already been registered.
“We have already received reservation cancellations from the United States. Occupancy is less than 60% when we were at 85% 3 or 4 days ago,” Vanegas said by telephone.
The “spring break” runs from mid-March to mid-April and leaves an economic spill of between 50 and 60 million dollars to Mexico, according to industry figures.
Usually crowded with young students around this time, the beaches, bars, and nightclubs on the Mexican Caribbean coast looked less and less crowded as the days progressed and the bans became stronger.
The authorities in Cancun, for example, have restricted the number of users for public transport to avoid crowds and are considering closing bars and clubs, a platform for well-known DJs and singers.
STS Travel, a Maryland-based company specializing in spring break packages for young Americans, told Reuters in an email that its operations were focused on bringing back home those who may have been stranded in Mexico or other beach destinations.
“All future trips have been canceled,” said Jacob Jacobsen, vice president of sales for STS Travel.
“WE DEPEND ON THIS WORK”
A decade ago, up to 250,000 young people came to the Mexican beaches to enjoy the “spring break”. However, the number has been decreasing while others prefer to go to Jamaica, the Dominican Republic or vacation in California or Florida.
While “spring breakers” spend, on average, about $ 600 during their stay, the standard tourist who arrives in Mexico spends about $ 1,600. And European travelers leave $ 2,500 on average for a 15-day stay.
The latter are the ones that the industry fears could stop arriving if the coronavirus, which has already spread to more than 300,000 people worldwide, continues its advance.
“We think that with all the prevention strategy deployed we will be able to flatten the curve (of contagion), although we know that it is going to flare up,” Vanegas predicted.
The epidemic could leave more than 44,000 people dependent on tourism in suspense in Quintana Roo alone, a state that contributes half of tourism GDP. But Vanegas said the state, along with the federal government, is working on a forecast to help those who cannot work.
Meanwhile, Mauro Medina, who rents parasailing equipment in Cancun, said he hopes the blow won’t be as hard.
“Hopefully there won’t be many cancellations because we depend on this job,” he said with a shrug.
Source: infobae.com, reuters, forbes
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