To Boost Tourism, Cruise Ship Ports Need RevampingBy Fernando Mares | Tue, 06/28/2022 - 16:24
Although Mexican ports being among the most visited in the world, they lack adequate infrastructure to receive large cruise ships, affecting the country’s competitiveness in receiving visitors, said Arturo Musi, President, Mexican Association to the Attention of Touristic Cruise Ships (AMEPACT).
According to the Mexican Navy (SEMAR) and the General Coordinator of Ports and Merchant Marine, Mexico has 27 ports with the capacity to receive cruise ships. Nevertheless, most of them do not have the capacity to receive the commonly-operated touristic ships of around 330m, said Musi in an interview with Mileno.
Most of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Coast ports have the capacity to attend to these larger ships, but this is not the case for the Pacific coasts’ ports, where only Ensenada, Baja California and Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco possess the required infrastructure. Only 13 ports have capacity for large ships, which means 50 percent of Mexican touristic ports would need to be revamped.
For this purpose, the Mexican Port Authorities (API) estimate that between US$3 and US$5 million is required depending on the port. Among the ports to be revamped are Los Cabos, La Paz, Pichilingue y Loreto, all located in Baja California Sur, as well as Guaymas in Sonora, Topolobanpo, Mazatlan in Sinaloa and Huatulco in Oaxaca.
Local governments are investing in cruise ship port infrastructure, like Yucatan Governor Mauricio Vila, who announced the extension of the Progreso port to receive larger cruise ships. Similarly, SEMAR announced its intention to develop port infrastructure in Veracruz and the construction of a cruise ship port in Baja California. Both projects will require an investment of over US$327 million under a public-private partnership where the public sector will invest in the facilities’ construction and the private sector in equipment for the terminals.
Mexico is the second-fastest country when it comes to the reactivation of the tourism sector in 1Q22, just behind Turkey. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) foreign tourist arrivals reached between 55 and 70 percent of 2019’s levels in 2022 so far. In addition, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said that the tourism sector will experience a growth of 3.2 percent.
The Ministry of Tourism (SECTUR) estimates that in 2022, over 6.7 million cruise ship users will travel to and through Mexico. This is four times the amount registered in 2021. Although Cozumel and Mahuahual, both located in Quintana Roo, represent over 48 percent of this figure, other ports could become similarly competitive.