While land-crossing border restrictions between the U.S. and Mexico have been extended through at least July 21, and the State Department’s “Do Not Travel” advisory still remains in effect due to the global impact of COVID-19, air travel to Mexico is already possible for those who just can’t wait.
And, most of the country’s well-known tourism destinations had begun to reopen, (at least partially), by July 1, if not sooner.
“The plan for the country is to open in stages and by regions,” said World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) CEO, Gloria Guevara. “The target is domestic travelers first, followed by travelers from the U.S. and Canada, and then the rest of the world,” CNN reported.
While no quarantine or COVID-19 testing is required for entry, general health and safety guidelines dictate that residents and visitors alike should wear masks while outside of their personal accommodations, and maintain social distancing. And, arrivals are subject to screening as they enter the country.
“Passengers and aircrew members arriving at Mexican airports may be subject to health screenings including temperature checks. Those exhibiting symptoms may be subject to additional health screening and/or quarantine,” states an updated health alert from the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico.
With each state Mexican state being responsible for orchestrating and executing its own tourism reopening strategy, let’s look at a few destinations that are already leading the way:
The Mexican Caribbean – Consistently a favorite among tourists, the state of Quintana Roo was among the first of Mexico’s tourism hotspots to re-welcome visitors, starting on June 8.
Home to such spectacularly popular vacation destinations as Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and the rest of the Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo sprang into action early on in order start to resurrect its tourism scene by championing new health and safety certifications for all of its travel-sector suppliers.
The Mexican Caribbean launched its own ‘Clean & Safe Check Certification’ initiative prior to reopening to tourists and soon after became the first destination in the Americas to qualify for the WTTC’s ‘Safe Travels’ certification stamp.
Cancun, in particular, reopened on June 8 under a four-phase plan, in which restaurants, hotels, theme parks and golf courses can currently operate at 30 percent capacity. Even with limited flights and at reduced capacities, the city has thus far welcomed roughly 70,000 visitors since its reopening. At the Cancun airport, thermographic cameras and facial-recognition software help to screen arrivals and allow authorities to identify anyone who may come through with a fever.
Riviera Nayarit, Nayarit – In conjunction with its sister city, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit begin reopening to visitors on June 15. Hotels are currently permitted to operate at only up to 30 percent capacity and are required to strictly adhere to protocols and health measures, as outlined by state officials and uphold social distancing guidelines in all common areas.
No sweat—Riviera Nayarit was awarded the WTTC ‘Safe Travels’ Stamp of Approval even days ahead of its planned reopening. The destination already has a reputation for cleanliness and sustainability, and also holds a Clean Tourism Destination certification, two EarthCheck certifications, four Blue-Flag Beach certifications and is home to ten certified Clean Beaches.
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco – Puerto Vallarta also reopened to tourism on June 15, with hotels subject to limited capacity. Per a July 3 update, hotels in the state of Jalisco are allowed to operate only at 25 percent capacity, although not all Puerto Vallarta-area hotels have yet reopened. Resort swimming pools, beach clubs, gyms and restaurants have been allowed to open, although spas remain closed.
Puerto Vallarta’s iconic Malecon oceanfront promenade hasn’t yet fully reopened to the public, though there are access points for its restaurants and shops available.
Restaurants and cafes already having established health and enhanced sanitization protocols are permitted to operate at 50 percent capacity, but bars remain closed. Stores, businesses and public roads previously deemed non-essential with links to supply chains are also allowed to open at 50 percent capacity, as are other establishments that are able to enforce social-distancing requirements. All residents and visitors should observe physical-distancing guidelines, and wear masks when distancing is not feasible.
The state of Jalisco itself has managed to achieve the WTTC’s ‘Safe Travels’ certification for its facilities, including the Puerto Vallarta International Airport.
Los Cabos, Baja California Sur – Los Cabos opened to travelers to travelers and tourism activities back on June 15. The very next day, the destination received its WTTC’s ‘Safe Travels’ certification stamp for its implementation of the global, standardized health and hygiene protocols.
Los Cabos was given a ‘Stage 5’ classification from the Baja California Sur state government, which meant that non-essential activities could restart, with businesses required to make sure that customers maintain social distancing of one person per thirteen feet, and recreational and social activities were allowed to resume at 30 percent capacity.
The Los Cabos International Airport’s international terminal, which had closed down due to inactivity, is expected to re-open on July 15, depending upon flight-traffic requirements. International flights are currently arriving at the airport’s main terminal, Terminal 1.
The destination is proceeding according to its five-phase strategic reopening plan, which dictates that inbound travel remain initially limited with a focus on refining health and safety measures, though there’s no set cap on hotel capacities.
Mazatlan, Sinaloa – Along the Pacific coast and considered part of the “Mexican Riviera”, this seaside colonial city, officially reopened to tourists on July 1.
Mazatlan has likewise been awarded the WTTC’s ‘Safe Travels’ certification, verifying its adherence to a globally-recognized set of health and safety standards, which are aimed at tamping out COVID-19 transmission.
The destination has also established a strategic alliance with prestigious international certification company, Preverisk, which independently audits the various protocols and facilities adjustments being implemented by local businesses and organizations.
All local services, including the airport, hotels, restaurants, transportation companies, tour operators and more are participating in the Responsible Tourism Chain’s “new normal” guidelines, following ninety days of operational modifications and training efforts.
Mexico, D.F. – Mexico City is currently operating at ‘Orange Traffic Light’ level, based upon the ‘Traffic Light Monitoring System for Epidemiological Risk of COVID-19’ that was recently instituted by the Mexican federal government’s Ministry of Health.
The capital city began reopening to tourism on June 29. Today, hotels, restaurants and shopping centers are being allowed to operate at 30 percent capacity, and open-air markets and street vendors have been allowed to resume activities.
However, you won’t find attractions like amusement parks, casinos, sporting venues, theatres, night clubs, spas or fitness centers reopening just yet.
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato – Access to the city and its UNESCO World Heritage historic center has been closed to non-residents ever since March.
At the start of July, San Miguel de Allende also received its WTTC’s ‘Safe Travels’ stamp of approval, with the city’s hotels, restaurants, cultural centers and more having completed the new cleanliness standards certification program. While hotels and resorts currently remain closed to tourists, July 15 is the tentative date that will enable visitors to begin arriving again.