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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkTravel & Outdoors 

Tourism Booms in Mexican Pacific, Falls in Caribbean

July 29, 2019

Mexico has spent $17 million to remove over half a million tons of sargassum seaweed from its Caribbean beaches, from Tulum to Playa del Carmen to Cancun, but it just keeps coming, and it's affecting tourism.

Cancun, Mexico - In an interview with ADN40, Best Day Travel Group CEO Julian Balbuena said that for his agency, which is Mexico's largest, the number of bookings to Caribbean destinations are falling, while those on the Mexican Pacific, such as Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos and Acapulco, are growing at double digits.

"At the international level there is a 1.3 percent increase in arrivals, although those from the United States, which occupy about 50 percent of hotel rooms, have fallen 1.8 percent," he said.

The sargassum problem and a lack of promotion has hurt tourism in Quintana Roo and made Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos rebound. The seaweed invasion has hit the Mexican Caribbean hotel industry hard. Despite the fact that the Easter vacation period fell in April this year, which should have boosted tourist arrivals, the number of occupied hotel rooms in Cancun and Puerto Morelos was lower than in the same month of last year.

In these destinations, hotel occupancy was 80.2 percent, 5.9 percentage points less than what was registered in April last year, according to data from the Tourism Secretariat of Quintana Roo. In Riviera Maya, hotel occupancy was at 83 percent, down 4.1 percentage points from 2018.

For the Hotel Association of the Riviera Maya (AHRM) the expected hotel occupancy for April was 85 percent, but instead the number of reservations fell 10 percent. "Not all beaches are affected at the same time (by sargassum), we must inform tourists that hotels in the affected areas pick the seaweed up daily, and some have placed containment projects in the waters in front of their properties to keep their beaches clean," commented the executive director of the AHRM, Manuel Paredes.

Jorge Hernández, president of the Mexican Association of Travel Agencies (AMAV), said that the decline in tourism has affected Cancun to a greater extent. Travel agencies are informing tourists of the sargassum problem in Quintana Roo and are suggesting alternatives such as Mazatlan, Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco or Gulf beach destinations. Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos are the destinations for which most have exchanged their reservations, he said.

Therefore, travel agencies are considering lowering their prices between 10 and 15 percent in an attempt to boost summer vacation season reservations, which are currently 8 percent lower nationwide than they were during the same period of last year, he added.