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To Travel Or Not To Travel, That Is The Question

Mexico’s tourism consumption decreased by more than $7 billion in 2020. 

The pandemic has hit the tourism sector in Mexico as hard as in other countries.

Mexican tourism consumption decreased by more than $7 billion in 2020, according to Statista. Tourist sites, airlines, hotels and restaurants have suffered the consequences.

As the pandemic hit, many companies that depended on tourism closed their facilities. Those that remained in service implemented strict sanitary measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19, and many lowered their rates seeking customers. Some people took advantage of this opportunity and visited empty beaches.

“During the pandemic, I traveled to Cancun, Puebla and Los Cabos,” said Israel Castañeda Sánchez, a lawyer and frequent traveler from Veracruz, Mexico. “Hotels were practically empty, which made my trips more pleasant.”

However, customers needed to be able to engage in tourism safely. Hotels, airlines and other providers implemented the hygiene measures and protocols mandated by the federal government.

Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism estimates that beach destinations will have a 45 to 67 percent occupancy during the Easter holiday. (Christian Lambert/Unsplash)

“In the case of beaches, hotels had sanitizing cabins where guests got disinfected upon their arrival, as well as when entering and leaving the facilities,” said Castañeda Sánchez.

But travelers had to understand that preventing the spread of the virus is not just the job of providers.

“At no time did I take off the mask, neither did my partner. We both wore face shields and masks and used sanitizing wipes. That is my main recommendation for people who decide to travel to a tourist place,” he said.

Resorts, airlines and restaurants carried out campaigns to attract tourism, with extremely cheap flight and accommodation packages compared to what they commonly cost.

These days, hotels receive only limited guests to avoid crowds in their facilities and allow for social distancing.

Restaurants operate at half capacity. Restaurant personnel take the temperature of diners and provide them with hand sanitizer upon their arrival. Diners are allowed to remove their masks only while eating.

Now, more Mexicans are daring to travel to nearby places. But with over 35 thousand COVID-19 active cases in the country, others still don’t feel safe.

“Too many people are acting with too much confidence and spreading the disease across the country. It spreads easily. It [the infection rate] decreases, and in three or fewer days, it rises again,” said Antonio Cervantes Trejo, a frequent traveler and employee of a plastics factory in the city of Veracruz.

He warns his fellow Mexicans that it is not yet safe to undertake any trip, even with precautions.

The correct use of face masks is essential. This vendor in Puerto Vallarta covered his mouth, but not his nose. This use does not prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Nicole Herrero/Unsplash)

“This is not the time to travel,” said Cervantes Trejo. “I have not been able to see my parents in Guanajuato for fear of making them sick. They are older adults. Neither have I been able to see my siblings, one of them in Tijuana and the other in San Luis Potosí.”

“We used to travel as a family, but we understand that this is not the time to do it. We could get infected with the virus anywhere,” he said. “We are still vulnerable because we do not have the vaccine yet,” Cervantes Trejo said.

Recommendations from frequent travelers 

Wear a face mask at all times.

Wear a face shield.

Use hand sanitizer or wet wipes.

Practice social distancing in public places.

Eat in open places where the tables are not close to each other.

Do not shake hands.

Avoid crowded places.

Wash your hands every time you get to your hotel room.

(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos. Edited by Kristen Butler)

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