Published On: Wed, Mar 25th, 2020

Coronavirus cancels Spring Break in Mexico

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s sunkissed beaches will lie largely empty during the peak “spring break” season that usually lures tens of thousand of young Americans south, as restrictions aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus spur widespread trip cancellations.A general view shows empty sun chairs along a beach during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Cancun, Mexico March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Delgado

Hotel occupancy in the state of Quintana Roo, home to popular Caribbean beach getaways including Cancun and Playa del Carmen, is now below 60% when just a few days ago it was 85%, state Tourism Minister Marisol Venegas told Reuters in a phone interview.

Even more cancellations are expected in the days ahead, dealing a blow to an industry that accounts for 8% of the Mexican economy.

Most years, hotel reservations made during the mid-March to mid-April season reach close to full occupancy.

“Since nearly all of the (spring breakers) come from the American market, they’ll abide by the orders the U.S. government has made and because of that a reduction is a given,” said Vanegas.

The teen and college-age revelers’ spending, meanwhile, accounts for total revenue of between $50 million and $60 million, according to data from a state hotel association and the tourism ministry.

The industry’s 4.4 million workers could see waves of layoffs depending on how the public health crisis plays out, as many hope the expected pain is only short term and a full recovery will follow.

Over the past week, usually-packed beaches, bars and clubs slowly emptied out as U.S. authorities issued a ban on non-essential travel to Mexico, including for tourist trips across the U.S.-Mexico land borders.

A ban on tourist flights has not yet been ordered.

Some local governments in Mexico have also ordered new health-minded rules to minimize the risk of new infections.

A decade ago, around 250,000 young U.S. vacationers flocked to destinations mostly clustered around Mexico’s Caribbean and Pacific coasts.

Recent years have seen only around 20,000, as many have opted to head to U.S. beaches in Florida and California while still others have favored other foreign vacation spots like the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

The average “spring breaker” spends about $600 during a one-week stay, according to data from the Quintana Roo tourism ministry, while the average, older tourist in Mexico coughs up around $1,600 per week.

A potential wave of cancellations from the latter group is the top worry going forward, as confirmed coronavirus infections now exceed 330,000 world-wide and more testing appears almost certain to drive the tally sharply higher.




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