CANCUN, Mexico – The state of Quintana Roo, home to Mexico’s most popular Caribbean tourist destinations, faces the challenge of counteracting a perception that it is unsafe and persuading travelers from the United States to return, the region’s top tourism official said.
Marisol Vanegas Perez told a press conference in Cancun that despite setbacks, the Quintana Roo tourism sector remains resilient.
Since 2017, underworld violence has plagued parts of Quintana Roo. Officials blame the mayhem on a turf war involving the Jalisco Nueva Generacion Cartel, the Los Zetas cartel and other gangs that want to control the illegal drug trade in the region.
“Our great strength is that we are united, with more than 30,000 hotel rooms under construction adding to a supply of more than 100,000 rooms,” Vanegas said.
Citing preliminary figures from the federal Tourism Secretariat, she said that the number of visitors to Caribbean Mexico rose 6 percent last year to 20.3 million.
Vanegas also referred to statistics from immigration authorities showing that international arrivals in the area climbed 3.51 percent in 2018 to 7.9 million.
The number of cruise ship passengers and crew entering Quintana Roo last year was 6.3 million, an increase of 6.11 percent from 2017.
Cozumel accounted for 5.01 million of that total, followed by Mahahual with 1.3 million, Vanegas said.
The director of the Quintana Roo Tourism Promotion Council, Dario Flota Ocampo, said the leading sources of international visitors to the state were the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Argentina and Colombia, in that order.
Another speaker at the press conference, Cancun and Puerto Morelos hotel association president Roberto Cintron Gomez, complained that hoteliers in the area lost 2.8 billion pesos ($145 million) in 2018 as a result of what he called unfair competition from Airbnb.
More than 950,000 visitors to Cancun and Puerto Morales found lodging through Airbnb instead of booking rooms at hotels, he said.
While Cancun needed 44 years to amass 34,000 hotel rooms, the online hospitality platform has acquired 30,000 lodgings in the resort city in just seven years, Cintron noted.
He said that he had sought a meeting with federal Tourism Secretary Miguel Torruco Marques to suggest legislation to regulate and tax Airbnb and other digital platforms.