By Lourdes Cruz
Cozumel, Mexico, Jun 16 (EFE).- This resort island in Mexico’s corner of the Caribbean rolled out the red carpet Wednesday for the first cruise ship to dock in Cozumel for more than a year.
During the official welcome ceremony for the Adventure of the Seas and its more than 1,000 passengers, Royal Caribbean’s vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean stressed the importance of Cozumel to the company’s ambitions as the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This pause has allowed us to consider every detail to be able to protect our destinations, such as the beautiful island of Cozumel, the passengers and the inhabitants,” Alberto Muñoz Quiros said.
Carlos Joaquin, the governor of Quintana Roo state, hailed the “spirit” shown by the cruise industry as it strives to emerge from the crisis.
“The arrival of this first cruise ship in Cozumel after this long recess invites us to look at the horizon with optimism,” he said.
Tourism accounts for 8.7 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product and is of vital importance to Quintana Roo and the other states that occupy the Yucatan peninsula.
Joaquin said that the state government is prioritizing public health while also working to revive the economy and restore employment to pre-pandemic levels.
“More than 94 percent of the passengers are vaccinated, with (negative) PCR tests and health bubbles in the places they are visiting,” the governor said.
After receiving 4.5 million visitors in 2019, Cozumel’s tourism sector was expecting an even better year in 2020 until coronavirus forced an abrupt halt to international travel, Mayor Pedro Joaquin Delbouis said.
The region’s economy lost as much as $400 million and 120,000 jobs in hospitality and related areas disappeared, according to figures from the Quintana Roo tourism office.
Authorities expect more than 1 million cruise ship passengers to pass through Cozumel this year.
The arrival of the Adventure of the Seas around 8:00 am Wednesday captured the attention of people on their way to work or out exercising and a crowd gathered to snap photos as the ship eased into its berth on the dock.
The overcast, rainy weather kept most of the passengers on the ship, but those who did come ashore took advantage of the opportunity to dive or go snorkeling.
Adolfo Alejandro Brito, a driver for one of Cozumel’s hotels, was among the laid-off workers who returned to their jobs Wednesday.
“It was very sad because we remember how before the pandemic the berths were full and the fact of not seeing the floating hotels was a sad thing for us and for all of the people of Cozumel,” he told Efe after taking a moment to gaze at the Adventure of the Seas.
The arrival of the cruise ship “means a great deal, above all for the economy of Cozumel,” Carmen Rivero, who works at a dockside shop, said. “Everything broke with the economic crisis and this is a hope.” EFE