TORONTO — It’s going to take more than a pandemic to bring down a powerhouse destination like the Mexican Caribbean.
Home to such tried and true vacation hotspots as Riviera Maya, Cancun and Playa del Carmen, the destination has weathered the pandemic better than most, launching its Clean & Safe Check Certification program in May 2020, implementing an effective traffic light system as part of its reopening plan, and welcoming back online the majority of hotels by mid-summer 2021. It also carries the enviable distinction of being the first destination to receive WTTC’s Safe Travels stamp.
And although the new omicron variant has led to new border measures for Canadian travellers, including on-arrival testing (except from the U.S.) and isolation until results are known, the Mexican Caribbean is reminding those who are willing and able to travel this winter that it has the necessary resources and experiences to ensure a safe and memorable getaway.
We recently sat down with Laura Nesteanu, Managing Director for GMS Canada, who represents the Mexican Caribbean in Canada as Account Director, to discuss how the Mexican Caribbean is preparing the winter season:
What kind of winter are you forecasting this year in terms of visitor arrivals, particularly from the Canadian market?
“The winter is very promising due to increased airlift from several countries around the world. There are currently 35 airlines flying into the 3 international airports in the Mexican Caribbean. For Canada specifically, we’re happy that the borders are open and Canadians are able to travel to our destination using their airline of preference. In addition to the Mexican and U.S. carriers, there are 4 Canadian airlines with nonstop flights to Cancun (Air Canada, Air Transat, WestJet, Swoop), departing from 7 cities across Canada (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Halifax).
“The vaccination numbers are very high in Canada and now that children will be vaccinated too, we believe that Canadian families will feel even more comfortable to get on a plane and have a fantastic holiday in one of our destinations.
“Mexico also doesn’t require a COVID-19 test to enter the country, so travel is more affordable. In addition, there are some hotels that offer PCR testing for returning Canadians free of charge, for stays of a minimum 7 nights.”
What’s hotel occupancy like right now? Are the majority of hotels and resorts open?
“Approximately 90% of hotels are fully open, the rest are in renovation or have even closed. According to the State Reactivation Traffic Light, the Mexican Caribbean is currently in the 1st Green Phase with hotels at 80% allowed capacity.
“Hotel occupancy varies according to the season. At the end of October, the occupancy was at 55% across the state and we’re expecting higher numbers towards the end of Q4 when visitation numbers increase due to the season.”
What is Mexico’s current entry requirements?
“Mexico does not require visitors to be fully vaccinated or present a COVID-19 test to enter the country. We suggest travellers check directly with the airline and hotel to learn about their respective protocols.
“All visitors are required to continue to comply with preventative measures and established protocols in the destination, which are available at this link: https://www.mexicancaribbean.travel/covid-19/. This link contains information on hygiene protocols for the travel industry in the Mexican Caribbean after COVID-19, including hotels, DMCs, parks, tours, restaurants, airports, airlines, providers, etc.”
How are you accommodating Canadians who are still required to provide a pre-departure PCR test upon their return home, for trips longer than 72 hours?
“In the Mexican Caribbean, we work together with health authorities and hotels to facilitate access to the diagnostic tests required for our visitors. Most of the hotel chains have confirmed that they will offer tests at no cost to their guests, additionally agreements have been made with laboratories and pharmacies to offer tests at preferential prices. In case of a PCR test, the hotels will provide support with the necessary procedures.
“For more information, consult directly with the chosen hotel and/or check the Table of Hospitals and Laboratories at this link: https://www.mexicancaribbean.travel/covid-19/covid-19-tests/.”
How are you working with the trade in preparation for the winter season?
“The Quintana Roo Tourism Board has a detailed action plan in place for the Canadian travel trade, including, but not limited to: two in-person events in Toronto and Montreal, a virtual roadshow for all of Canada for December, an exhibit at the Toronto Travel Marketplace on Dec. 1, monthly newsletters with destination updates, a dedicated e-learning platform for travel agents to get certified on the Mexican Caribbean, and plenty of resources available on the website. Most importantly, as of October 2021, there’s a local team in Toronto to offer support and handle any requests from travel agents or travel media. They can be reached by phone at (647) 797-3733 or by emailing Allison.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
“The Quintana Roo Tourism Board has also engaged locally in several partnerships with key travel partners such as Expedia and Air Transat to promote the Mexican Caribbean directly to consumers and support the efforts airlines and travel partners have made to actively sell our product.”
What’s new in the destination that Canadians should know about?
“While Cancun continues to be a favourite destination to escape the cold winter months, new additions across the Mexican Caribbean promise innovative new stays, exciting activities and delicious flavours throughout the region for 2021 and 2022.” These include:
- The Hilton Cancun, an All-Inclusive Resort, celebrated its opening on Nov. 8 as the fifth all-inclusive resort by Hilton
- The new Hotel Xcaret Arte is a hotel experience that pays homage to the best Mexican artists, with suites inspired by Mexico’s culture and art
- Opening in December 2021 is Live Aqua Beach Resort Riviera Maya Tulkal, part of a new La Coleccion Resorts development that will also include the Fiesta Americana Riviera Maya Tulkal and the Tulkal Convention Center
- The brand new La Casa De La Playa By Grupo Xcaret is a luxury boutique hotel in the Cancun area
- Opening Feb. 11, 2022 is the new adults-only, all-inclusive Secrets Moxché Resort
For more information about travel to the Mexican Caribbean, go to www.mexicancaribbean.travel.