Photo: Pxhere

By KELIN DILLON

The Mexican Secretariat of Tourism (Sectur) revealed that there was a 44 percent drop in foreign tourism to Mexico during 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Projections from Sectur indicated this year will end with 25 million tourists having entered Mexico. This figure stands in stark contrast to the 45 million foreigners who vacationed in Mexico during 2019.

This kind of drastic drop in tourism had never been seen in the country before since records started being kept in 1980. The largest decline recorded was in 1997, when 10 percent less tourists visited Mexico than the previous year, still 12 percent less than reported in 2020.

“We have focused on the impact of today, but we have to evaluate this with the impact it will have in the years to come,” said Braulio Arsuaga, president of the National Tourism Business Council (CNET) and CEO of Grupo Presidente.

“There is a lot of profit that will be lost, if the return on profit will take longer, it will probably not be so attractive to invest in tourism (in Mexico).”

A decline as large as this in the tourism sector has harsh repercussions on Mexico’s economy, of which the tourism makes up 17 percent of the country’s GDP. 

Before the pandemic, Mexico had one of the largest rates of tourism for any emerging country in the world, second only to Thailand.

Border closures, the cancellation of flights and restrictions on hotel capacities due to the coronavirus crisis have all contributed to the sharp decline in foreign visitors.

Mexico is now faced with an important decision on how it continues to handle the pandemic as a new strain of covid-19 has been detected in the United Kingdom. Many countries around the world have declared they would no longer be accepting flights from the British Isles to prevent the transmission of this reportedly highly contagious strain into their borders. 

With the tourism industry struggling, Mexico may not be able to afford shutting out potential vacationers from the United Kingdom.

In his morning press conference on Monday, Dec. 21, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) said the Secretariat of Public Health would make a decision as to whether to allow flights to come from the U.K. into Mexico later that day.

The decision could shine a light on what the Mexican government prioritizes: the health of its citizens or the vitality of its economy. If Mexico allows flights to enter the country from the U.K., it could potentially bring in the new, more contagious strain of coronavirus, which is already facing a staggering surge in cases nationwide. If it refuses entry to any British flights, it could add an extra drop in the already dismal tourism rates of the country. 

The decision from the Secretariat of Public Health is expected to arrive on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

…Dec. 22, 2020

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