Cancun a COVID-19-Free Destination?By Daniel González | Thu, 04/30/2020 - 17:07
Quintana Roo surpassed on Wednesday 100 deaths related to COVID-19. This prompted Cancun’s Mayor Mara Lezama to launch a message to its citizens asking them to remain home and contain the spread of the virus. The state’s dire health situation has not prevented government officials and the private sector to present ideas to boost the lagging economy, which relies heavily on tourism, considered the most affected sector worldwide. An idea presented by Roberto Cintrón, President of the Cancun, Puerto Morelos and Isla Mujeres Hotel Association, proposes to market Cancun and the Riviera Maya as “a COVID-19-free destination.”
Cintron, through the association, is promoting a certificate that would be awarded by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Tourism and which, according to El Universal, Carlos Joaquín González, Governor of Quintana Roo, has already given agreed on. “We have to hurry. The idea is for the hotels to open on June 1, after the date of reactivation established by the federal government. We believe that a COVID-19-free certificate should be created so that the entire tourism industry of the state can start business operations on that date,” said Cintrón.
Cancun, along with CDMX, is the city that contributes most to the country’s tourism GDP, which has been affected by harsh confinement measures. According to the government of Quintana Roo, on April 17, Cancun registered the worst tourism figures in 10 years with only 2.7 percent hotel occupancy. This figure has grown now to 8 percent, because many tourists have not been able to leave the city and return to their homes.
The measures proposed by the Hotel Association of Cancun, Puerto Morelos and Isla Mujeres, which are backed up by the Mexican Association of Hotels and Motels and the state governor, come a few days after the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement referring to immunity passports proposed by several countries for those patients who have been able to overcome the virus and return to normality. However, WHO is adamant. “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” reports the organization. “The use of such certificates may increase the risk of continued transmission. As new evidence becomes available, WHO will update this scientific summary.”
In addition, if the federal government approves the proposed certificates, it would have to wait for measures from other countries. According to data from the Ministry of Tourism, 43 percent of the tourists who arrive to Cancun come from Canada and the US. These countries currently have very restrictive measures for flying abroad. In this context, a COVID-19-free destination certificate would only be helpful to promote national tourism.
According to the Ministry of Labor, Quintana Roo accounts for 18 percent of all workers who have lost their jobs in Mexico as a result of COVID-19. State authorities predict that the full recovery of the tourism sector will not be seen until mid-2021.