CANCUN, Mexico – Tourists are flocking to Cancun and Mexico’s Riviera Maya despite a wave of violence in recent months that prompted officials to deploy a large number of security forces members in the region during Holy Week.
Visitors are arriving by air, sea and land in the Cancun-Riviera Maya corridor, where nearly 1,500 soldiers and local, state and federal law enforcement agents are providing security.
Officials launched “Operation Riviera Maya” in early April, deploying 600 army troops to patrol areas affected by a wave of violence since January that included attacks on the Blue Parrot club in Playa del Carmen and the prosecutor’s office in Cancun.
Last week, 450 National Gendarmerie members arrived in Cancun to patrol tourist districts.
The governments of the cities that are home to Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Mexico’s top two tourist destinations, have taken measures to protect tourists and tourism industry workers.
Authorities removed vendors from Playa del Carmen’s Fifth Avenue due to suspicions that some were engaged in drug dealing, while the city of Benito Juarez, where Cancun is located, is looking at forcing bars and clubs outside the hotel district to close earlier.
Quintana Roo state’s hotels are expected to have average occupancy rates of between 85 percent and 90 percent during the week, hitting 100 percent occupancy on weekends, the state Tourism Secretariat said.
An estimated 1.2 million tourists, of whom nearly 60 percent are domestic, are expected to arrive in the Caribbean state during the two-week vacation period, Quintana Roo Tourism Secretary Marisol Vanegas told reporters.
Hotels are sold out in Holbox, Tulum and Isla Mujeres, where some visitors made reservations up to six months in advance.
Cancun International Airport set an arrivals record on April 8, handling 619 flights – 177 domestic and 442 foreign – and welcoming 86,000 visitors in just one day.
About 6,000 people a day are arriving in Cancun on buses, tourism officials said.
Most visitors on road trips come from Yucatan and Campeche states, and stay with friends or relatives, but they still provide a boost to the tourist industry.