Mexico’s Cancun airport passes pre-pandemic tourism mark

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico passed a milestone of sorts in September when the airport at the country’s biggest coastal resort, Cancun, surpassed pre-pandemic levels of passengers.

The Airports of the Southeast group, which runs the terminal at the Caribbean coast resort, said Wednesday it handled 1.66 million passengers in Cancun in September, 4.4% percent more than in the same month of 2019.

By January 2020, the coronavirus pandemic cut pasenger numbers drastically, and only about 854,000 passengers used the airport in September 2020.

It is unclear, but highly possible, that passenger levels at the Cancun airport for all of 2021 could equal or exceed the 2019 annual number.

Mexico never instituted any quarantine or testing requirements for incoming passengers, in part to avoid affecting the country’s tourism income.

In June, the resort of Cozumel, south of Cancun, welcomed the first arrival of a cruise ship carrying passengers since the pandemic essentially collapsed that industry.

Quintana Roo state is home to the resorts of Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. The state depends on tourism for 87% of its economic activity.

Anecdotal evidence suggests tourists are attracted to Mexico’s Caribbean resorts in part because there has been no lockdown and health precautions are largely voluntary. Many visitors shed their masks when they reach their hotels or beach clubs.

The state saw an upsurge in COVID-19 cases in the spring, in part linked to increased travel around Easter week, and partial reductions at businesses like hotels and restaurants were implemented to stem the surge, which has since declined.

Mexico has never enforced a strict, European-style lockdown.

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