Spring Break, Crucial Source of Tourism IncomeBy Cas Biekmann | Mon, 03/30/2020 - 15:02
Millions of students from various universities and schools await with anticipation Spring Break. While some of these universities refer to it as the “study week” or “reading week,” in reality many students travel to nearby beaches to relax and have fun under the sun. Bordering with the US and having the advantage of better climate and cheaper prices, Mexico directly benefits from the spring break tradition.
Popular Mexican destinations for spring breakers include Cancun, Cabo San Lucas and Tijuana. Reuters estimated that they generate a significant income of up to US$60 million. Quintana Roo’s Ministry of Tourism estimates that the average spring breaker spends around US$600 during a one week’s stay, as compared to the US$1,600 older tourists spends. In Mexico, tourism accounts for roughly 8 percent of the GDP. In Quintana Roo, where Cancun and Tulum are hot spots, tourism makes up half of the local income. Approximately 44,000 people in the state work in the tourism industry and many are informally employed but work directly in the industry. Nationwide, around 4.4 million people make up the tourism workforce.
Though Spring Break is a good week for the country, El Universal showed that travelers visit Mexico less than 10 years ago. Back then, around 250,000 students left the US to visit more tropical locations on both Mexico’s Caribbean and Pacific coasts. In recent years, only about 20,000 students visited Mexico. Many students decided to stay in the US and visit the Florida, California and Texas beaches instead or flocked to other vacation spots such as Jamaica or the Dominican Republic. To keep the crowd coming, Quintana Roo’s local government invested in cleaning up the sargassum plaguing the state’s beaches employing special vessels at no small cost.
Current developments regarding COVID-19 have seen the amount of spring breakers drop down to practically zero. This has left Mexico’s tourism industry largely without income and potentially spelling disaster for workers in the industry. Quintana Roo’s Minister of Tourism Marisol Venegas told Reuters that occupancy rates were well below 60 percent last week. Nonetheless, Venegas said that some of the financial help President López Obrador promised would boost the industry. Although Spring Break looks a bit bleaker for Mexico at the moment, tourism trends can shift once again once the virus is dealt with at a global scale.