Sargassum in Quintana Roo is helping to drive tourism to Puerto Vallarta

During April, the Sargassum (brown seaweed) and the lack of promotion in Quintana Roo hit the hotel occupancy, and although this year, the Easter holiday period fell in April, which should have driven the arrival of tourists, occupancy in Cancun and Puerto Morelos was lower than in the same month last year, but Puerto Vallarta saw a rebound during the same period.

In Quintana Roo, hotel occupancy was 80.2 percent, 5.9 percentage points less than that registered in April last year, according to data from the Tourism Secretariat of Quintana Roo. In Riviera Maya, hotel occupancy was 83 percent, 4.1 percentage points less annually.

For the Association of Hotels of the Riviera Maya (AHRM) the expectation of hotel occupancy for April was 85 percent. In addition, the reservation rate has dropped by 10 percent. “Not all the beaches are affected by the seaweed at the same time, we inform tourists about the points of affectation and hoteliers collect it daily in large quantities, some have placed containment projects in the reef lagoon in front of their properties”, said the executive director of the AHRM, Manuel Paredes.

Jorge Hernández, president of the Mexican Association of Travel Agencies (AMAV), said that the decrease in occupancy of Quintana Roo has affected Cancun to a greater extent. Travel agencies inform tourists of the problem of seaweed in the destination, and if they are not convincing they suggest alternatives such as Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Manzanillo, Huatulco or beaches of the Gulf, he said.

Vallarta and Los Cabos are some of the destinations where tourists have switched their reservations, he added. Therefore, the agencies are considering lowering their prices between 10 and 15 percent to recover reservations for the summer season nationwide that are down 8 percent against the same period last year.

In Quintana Roo, they see concern with the resignation of Josefa González Blanco from the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat), since it was expected that the federal strategy to combat the seaweed problem would be announced, together with the applicable environmental guidelines.

The Early Warning System of the Monitoring Network of Sargazo Cancun, anticipated “difficult months” in June, July and August for the Quintana Roo coastline in view of the accelerated reproduction of the algae observed in the vicinity of the Lesser Antilles and further south, in the NERR region (Recirculation Region North of Ecuador), which is located off the coast of Brazil.

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