By Lourdes Cruz
Cancun, Mexico, Apr 16 (EFE).- Easter 2022 finds hotels in the southeastern Mexican state of Quintana Roo enjoying their highest occupancy rates since before Covid-19 all but shut down global tourism in 2020.
The state government expects roughly 1.2 million Mexican and foreign tourists to flock to Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, and other Caribbean resorts during the holiday period.
Authorities project that those visitors will inject nearly $1 billion into the local economy, an increase of 67 percent from last year.
As of Friday, 215,000 international travelers had arrived at the airports in Cancun, Cozumel, and Chetumal, while 95,000 others disembarked from cruise ships, according to figures provided by Quintana Roo Gov. Carlos Joaquin.
The governor appealed this week to visitors and residents to continue to observe pandemic protocols by wearing masks on public transportation and in closed spaces.
He also encouraged people to take advantage of initiatives such as the vaccination station set up at Cancun International Airport or the rapid-testing location in the heart of the city’s main shopping and nightlife district.
While Covid-19 case numbers have been low for several weeks, Mexicans remain concerned about a disease that has already claimed 325,000 lives in the Aztec nation.
On another front, Mexico has sought to reassure potential visitors worried about crime in Quintana Roo by deploying hundreds of military and National Guard personnel to reinforce police during the holiday period.
Despite the extra security, one person was killed and another wounded Friday in a shooting near Hotel Xcaret, a luxury establishment on the Riviera Maya.
The state’s tourism sector also continues to contend with unsightly and often-foul-smelling piles of sargassum, a type of brown seaweed, on beaches.
After a then-record invasion of 170,000 tons of seaweed in 2018, the following year saw the amount of sargassum on Quintana Roo beaches approach 1 million tons.
Weather forecasters are calling for a shift in prevailing winds and currents in the coming days that will reduce the volume of seaweed, yet concerns about the algae’s potential negative effects on human health have prompted the temporary closure of a beach in Playa del Carmen.
Authorities in Playa del Carmen have started offering people arrested for minor offenses a choice between clearing sargassum from beaches and spending 36 hours in jail.
So far, 70 offenders have opted to clean up the beaches. EFE lc/dr