Photo: Grupo Presidente


The new travel rules imposed by the U.S. government for persons entering that country from abroad — which include proof of having had a negative antigen covid test within 72 hours of arrival and subsequent quarantine for up to 10 days — have set off major alarm bells for Mexico’s already-moribund tourism industry.

In Mexico, which depends on tourism revenues for up to 8.5 percent of its GDP, about 63 percent of all foreign tourists arrive from the United States, and all of them will now be subject to the new rulings when they return home.

At the start of 2021, Sectur Secretary Miguel Torruco said that in, the worst case scenario, tourism would bring in $13.078 billion for the country this year.

But after the new U.S. travel restrictions were imposed, Torruco said that that figure could drop to just $11.5 billion.

In a statement Tuesday, Jan. 26, Torruco went on to say that the new U.S. travel restrictions will lead to a loss of 9.6 million foreign visitors to Mexico in 2021.

Torruco pointed out that the World Tourism World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has warned that extreme sanitary protocols, such as imposed quarantines, could lead to the global collapse of the tourism industry as a whole.

While the WTTC does approve of rapid, pre-flight testing for covid-19, it has noted that new travel restrictions may “cause irreparable damage” to a key economic sector, leaving thousands of businesses crushed, millions of jobs lost and confidence in travel at an all-time low.

According to estimates by Mexico’s Tourism Research Center (Cicotur) released at the start of January, in 2021, about 27 million foreign tourists were expected to travel to Mexico in 2021, representing a 40 percent drop from the comparable figure in 2019, and just 10.9 percent higher than in 2020.

Those figures were released prior to the new travel mandates imposed by the United States, and Cicotur now says that there may be a further decline in tourism in 2021 compared to 2020.

The new requirement for a pre-flight antigen test was imposed by the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump, but the addition of mandatory quarantining was added by Biden.

U.S. and Mexican authorities are currently in talks to define what types of covid tests will be required, as well as the new regulations regarding quarantines.

Meanwhile, many Mexican hotels and airlines are offering their customers free or low-cost covid tests to encourage them to travel to Mexico.

Also, some vacation resort destinations, particularly along the Mexican Riviera Maya corridor, have installed rapid, affordable covid testing stalls at their airports to help tourists traveling back to the United States meet the new entry regulations.

…Jan. 28, 2021

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