PHOTO: Backflipping for joy over the beauty of Cancun. (Photo via Flickr/Predi)
In the last month, a few of the headlines coming from Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean have been less than ideal, leaving many travel agents wondering if it’s really such a good idea for their clients to visit right now. The short answer is “yes,” but we tapped a couple of hoteliers and tourism officials to fill us in on a longer answer that might help assuage lingering doubts.
For starters, it’s a question of size and location.
“It’s hard for many of our visitors to realize how big the city has gotten,” explained Ana Gon-Ryan, Director of Sales for the Fiesta Americana Resort Collection, which owns some of the top resorts in the area including the Live Aqua in the hotel Golden Zone and the recent recipient of a Silver Travvy Award for Best Boutique Hotel for the Live Aqua Boutique Resort Playa del Carmen.
“Most tourists go straight from the airport to one of the many all-inclusive resorts and maybe go out for a tour of the theme parks or Tulum. But whether they stay in Cancun or the Riviera Maya, it’s hard for them to realize that the area — including the 80-mile-long Riviera Maya — encompasses 1,000 square miles with an estimated population of one million people in Cancun City. And like any other big city, we, unfortunately, have criminal issues.”
“The events in the headlines took place inside the city limits, which is 30 to 50 miles away from the hotel zone [depending on the location of the hotel] and even further north of the Riviera,” added Gon-Ryan. “Our visitors didn’t even realize anything had happened until the events were posted on social media. Those responsible were caught by the police and Cancun is safer than ever today because our new Governor is working extremely hard to put more criminals behind bars everyday."
Jonathan Flores, Sales Executive for the Aloft Cancun—closer to the city itself by virtue of its location in the Convention Center—commented that Cancun is still very much an ideal place for families, singles and couples. “Cancun has always had safety measures in place and it’s still high on the list of recommendations for travelers looking for a good vacation place. Plus there’s been additional monitoring of the Hotel Zone with the idea of making our visitors feel extra safe as they enjoy their vacation.”
Sergio González Rubiera, President of the Quintana Roo bureau of the Mexican Association of Travel Agents (AMAV by its acronym in Spanish), has created a series of videos with the hashtag #YoAmoMexico (#ILoveMexico) where he interviews international visitors regarding the current situation in the area and shows videos of the beaches after the incidents.
The scenes depict unworried and unhurried sunbathers enjoying the weather and the scenery—basically just another day in Paradise. They’re posted in the Mexico News Network channel on YouTube with easy access. The interviewees’ comments are overwhelmingly positive.
The Cancun Convention and Visitors Office emphasized Cancun’s status as the number one tourist destination in Mexico in a recent release, pointing out traveler numbers have increased year over year. In fact, the Cancun International Airport is currently working on the addition of a new terminal slated for completion this year.
“Cancun is a safe and wonderful place for families to enjoy; beautiful beaches, fabulous hotels and resorts that offer state of the art facilities and unsurpassed service,” said CEO Lizzie Cole. “Great shopping, activities and entertainment are always available. Enjoy the ancient Mayan archaeological sites, swim with the amazing whale sharks (from May to September), try the freshest seafood and regional dishes, visit the Museum of the Maya Culture and get acquainted with turtles and dolphins. Cancun is no doubt the best spot for family groups of all ages and sizes”.
The destination has a full schedule of events planned for 2017, including the Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival on March 4, the 47th anniversary of the destination on April 20, the International Fishing Tournament Isla Mujeres in May and much more.