Only 25 million people traveled abroad in 1950, at the advent of the jet age. By 2019, that figure had risen to 1.5 billion, and the travel and tourism industry had grown to almost unfathomable dimensions for many economies. Prior to COVID-19, the tourism industry had grown to be one of the most significant players in the global economy, accounting for 10% of global GDP and more than 320 million jobs globally.
As 2021 came to a close, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) revealed that international tourism rose by only 4% in 2020, staying 72 percent below 2019 levels. This corresponds to more than one billion fewer international travelers than before the pandemic, holding the sector at thresholds last witnessed in the 1980s.
An overview of the Mexican tourism industry
The tourism industry is one of the most important sources of revenue for Mexico. According to the Mexican National Industry of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), tourist activities and hospitality businesses account for 8.7 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product and approximately 6% of total jobs.
As a result, the onset of Covid-19 in Mexico and the resultant travel restrictions, locally and internationally, posed a significant threat to the country’s economic growth, particularly in the tourism sector, recreational, and hospitality industries. In 2019 and before the pandemic blew the tourism industry apart, Mexico received 45 million international tourists earning the country over $25 billion.
How Coronavirus brought an industry to its knees
The coronavirus pandemic has been the most severe threat to the tourism sector in decades. Other significant threats include the 2013 SARS epidemic and the 2009 financial meltdown. So how did Covid-19 ravage the Mexican tourism industry?
Many countries across the world instituted travel restrictions. People were restricted from leaving or entering a country to curb the spread of the disease. These measures were put in place to ensure minimal movement even within the country. The net effect of these measures was that international and domestic tourism was greatly curtailed.
Mexicans could not travel to their favorite destinations. Neither could international travelers jet nor sail in. Domestic restrictions in the United States and flight suspensions for Canadians, two countries that send millions of tourists to Mexico, added further gloom to the situation.
At the height of the pandemic, Mexico had one of the loosest travel restrictions. For instance, visitors were not required to have a negative test. There was also no mandatory quarantine.
The death toll was also not as scary compared to those faced by other countries such as the United States, Spain, and Italy. Nevertheless, tourist numbers took a tumble as potential travelers chose to put their safety first.
Spiral effects of travel restrictions
Even more ominous for Mexico were the effects of travel restrictions on the hospitality industry. Thousands of hotels and resorts were forced to close as they could not sustain operations on the meager income from domestic tourists. The closure meant that hospitality employees were out of jobs. Other service providers such as food suppliers, tour guides, souvenir sellers, and beach operators were also suffering.
Speaking to CNN, Martinez Rodriguez, a birdwatching guide in Puerto Vallarta, lamented the economy’s state stating that the travel restrictions and lockdowns had extensively scaled down his business. Puerto Vallarta is one of the destinations where Royal Holiday Vacation takes its guests.
On a typical day, Martinez used to conduct a minimum of five tours in a week but was hardly managing three in a month. The lost revenue is not just at the household level but is also felt in the country’s coffers affecting the ability of the government to provide essential services.
What does the future hold?
Looking to the future, most researchers at UNWTO estimate that a complete recovery will not occur until 2024 or thereafter. While the UNWTO Team of Experts anticipates an upsurge in travel activity in 2022, only 4% of the experts polled expect a complete recovery by 2022.
Approximately one-third of participants believe international tourist arrivals will resume to pre-pandemic levels by 2023, while the remaining 63% believe it will take considerably longer. According to UNWTO forecasts, foreign tourist arrivals could rise by 30 to 78 percent in 2022 compared to 2021. While this appears to be a marked improvement, it is still more than 50% lower than pre-pandemic peaks.
On its part, Mexico continues to take proactive action to get back to normalcy. In December 2021, Mexico launched a nationwide vaccination campaign. Borders are open to international travelers jetting in planes or sailing.
Border crossings with the United States are also opened and manned to allow for a controlled and safe flow of tourists. Hotels offered attractive discounts of up to 50%. Travel companies such as Royal Holiday Vacation have also developed attractive packages to entice visitors to travel to various destinations in Mexico.
Travel companies such as Royal Holiday Vacation are at the forefront, encouraging people to travel again. The company, which takes visitors to over 180 destinations across 52 countries, has committed to a series of measures to ensure guests are safe in all their destinations. The Safe Guest Program, developed by a world-renowned British firm, ensures guests are safe from the moment they step into any destination, during their stay, and at departure. Travel with Royal Holiday Vacation today and experience the world like you used to.