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Cancun, Riviera Maya, Los Cabos Hope to Reopen to Tourists in June

By Laura Dannen Redman

05.13.20

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Mexico has a May 30 deadline to lift restrictions on domestic travel.

Photo courtesy Quintana Roo Tourism Board

Mexico has a May 30 deadline to lift restrictions on domestic travel.

The Quintana Roo and Los Cabos tourism councils say they hope to start welcoming travelers this summer. But what changes need to happen by then?

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This is a developing story. We will continue to update as the world changes. For the latest information on traveling during the coronavirus outbreak, visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

The Mexican state of Quintana Roo—home to popular vacation spots like Cancun, Tulum, and Riviera Maya—and Pacific Coast resort city Los Cabos have announced plans to reopen to tourists in June, joining Greece as some of the earliest destinations to publicly campaign to bring back travelers this summer. 

Like much of the world, Mexico has been on lockdown to stem the spread of COVID-19 for several weeks, and as part of an agreement enacted on March 21, all nonessential travel between the United States and Mexico has been prohibited. (What, exactly, is nonessential travel? Glad you asked.) The deadline to reopen the U.S.-Mexico border—or consider an extension—is approaching quickly, with the respective governments expected to make a decision by May 19. Mexico also has a national deadline of May 30 to lift restrictions on domestic travel. If all goes to plan, Quintana Roo and Los Cabos will open their arms to visitors shortly after.

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First reported by Riviera Maya News, the Quintana Roo Tourism Promotion Council said it will launch new promotional campaigns this month aimed at four regions: local, regional, and national tourism, which it expects to rebound first, with North America hot on its heels; promoting travel from Europe and South America will follow. Technically, flights have still been arriving in Quintana Roo (albeit on a limited schedule and some nearly empty), but Darío Flota Ocampo, director of Quintana Roo Tourism Promotion Council (CPTQ), said in a statement that several airlines have announced they’ll resume operations at the biggest and busiest airport for international arrivals, Cancun International Airport.

Upon arrival in Mexico, travelers face health screenings like temperature checks—Cancun’s airport has thermographic cameras that register travelers with fevers, Flota explained—and the possibility of being asked to return home or quarantine in Mexico if they are symptomatic. (The website for the U.S. embassy and consulates in Mexico is regularly updated with entry and exit information, plus any other travel requirements for when the time comes.)

Quintana Roo has one of the more ambitious timelines, though it’s not alone in its desire to bounce back. Today, Los Cabos announced a five-phase reopening plan that begins June 1 with “limited travel activity” and the implementation of new health and safety standards, including a “Clean Point” quality certification offered by the Mexican government to travel suppliers like airports, transportation services, and restaurants that meet high hygiene standards. 

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On April 18, the Los Cabos international Airport consolidated the departures and arrivals all of its national and international flights into terminal one due to low air traffic activity. If COVID-19 cases remain low, Los Cabos will move to phase two—reopening the international terminal and resuming international visits—in July, with the hopes of reclaiming some of the estimated 1 million tourists it expects to be down in 2020. The tourism board also confirmed in a statement acquired by AFAR that “62 percent of the hotel inventory will resume operations while internationally airlines like Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest, and Delta have already announced the return to the destination.”

Despite best intentions to reopen, June is approaching quickly, and Mexico faced a surge in new COVID-19 cases this past weekend, Reuters/Newsweek reports, bringing the number of total reported cases to 35,022. With testing numbers relatively low, Mexican health authorities “reiterated calls for people to stay home during this time.” Still, some states like Quintana Roo have reported declining COVID-19 numbers, with 1,118 total positive cases; of those, 189 people have died and 544 have recovered. 

In conjunction with the secretary of health, Mexico’s secretary of tourism released protocol for the hospitality industry to clean hotels and help visitors feel safe while COVID-19 remains a threat. Among the recommendations:

  • Surfaces should be cleaned with a cloth or towel soaked with water with detergent, to avoid dispersing any dust.

  • Horizontal surfaces including tables, chairs, beds, shelves, or other installations attached to the wall should be cleaned with a cloth with detergent water, rinsed with clean water, and disinfected with chlorinated solution.

  • The walls, windows, and doors (including the handles) should be cleaned regularly, in addition to when they are visibly dirty.

In anticipation of a reopening of tourism on June 1, “the Hotel Association of Cancún, Puerto Morelos and Isla Mujeres (AHCP), announced the ‘Come 2 Cancún’ campaign to attract visitors with two-for-one hotel stays,” reports Mexico Daily News. The Quintana Roo Tourism Promotion Council expects convention and wedding guests to return first, though it hopes “international and national tourists will consider the Mexican Caribbean a safe and attractive destination to visit once travel restrictions are lifted.” 

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