MEXICO’S MOST PRECIOUS GEM

Mexico 2017 | TOURISM | PHOTO ESSAY: CANCÚN

Cancún attracts a wide range of tourists from all over the world, including people looking for culture, history, beaches, and adventure, and those that like to party.

Turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, tropical weather, and a rich cultural heritage are some of the most appealing features of this Caribbean gem in southeastern Mexico that until four decades ago was but a small fishing village. Today, Cancún attracts around 5 million visitors every year.

Cancún is an island in the municipality of Benito Juarez, the capital of the state of Quintana Roo. It is the main destination of the Mayan Riviera on the Yucatan peninsula. According to data of the Quintana Roo Ministry of Tourism, 10,634,681 tourists in the state in 2015, 43% of them were visiting Cancun exclusively, an increase 5.3% compared to the previous year.
In addition to its beautiful natural and historical characteristics, Cancún has top-notch infrastructure. Cancún airport is second in traffic, after Mexico City Airport, in the whole country. ASUR, the company managing the airport, reported that the hub had broken its passenger record by the end of 2015. With 17.4 million passengers in 2014, it had 19 million in 2015. 81 new routes have opened in the last five years, connecting this popular destination with Europe, North and South America, and the Caribbean. In order to handle this increase in tourists, the Cancún airport opened its third terminal in 2016 and is already planning the construction of its fourth.

The Ministry of Tourism reported there were 145 hotels in Cancún with more 30,000 rooms in total. Generally, they have an average occupancy rate of 79%, while they are full during Easter and the high seasons of summer and winter. Though three quarters of these are five-star hotels, the fall of the Mexican peso and decrease in airplane tickets due to the low oil prices have made Cancún an affordable destination.
For Cancún and Quintana Roo, tourism is the pillar of the economy. INEGI, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, reports that 86% of the state's GDP relies on revenues from tertiary activities, most of which are related to tourism. In the last five years, Quintana Roo has received around 65 million visitors, generating an economic impact of USD37.5 million and consolidated private investments of more than USD2.3 billion.
In 2015, Quintana Roo captured 38.5% of the total foreign exchange entering the country through tourism. That is an amount of USD6.7 billion out of the USD17.5 billion that entered Mexico in total. The average tourist in Cancún spends USD1,037 during their stay, compared to USD538 in Cozumel and USD630 in Riviera Maya. This is why Cancún is still the main source of employment and revenue for Quintana Roo, even though new developments have been established in surrounding locations.
According to the national survey of employment and occupancy of INEGI, 396,798 people in Quintana Roo were employed in the services sector, out of a total economically active population of 776,682 people. Tourism in Cancún is the main source of income and employment; therefore the main focus of the local government is to increase social development by embracing tourism and attracting new investments and visitors.
Beautiful pristine beaches, archaeological sites, state of the art hotel infrastructure, and shopping and entertainment are some of its main attractions. Cancún is a story of success for Mexico. Four decades ago, no one would have guessed the importance Cancún would have on the national economy. Who would have predicted that a tiny village is now one of the most visited places on the planet? It is also unquestionably a place that every visitor will want to visit again.