The tourism industry is growing at a ‘torrid pace’ in Mexico’s Riviera Maya,according to Fortune,thanks in large part to a “real estate boom” that has helped turn this corner of the Caribbean into one of the world’s most successful tourist destinations.
“In the last six years,Playa del Carmen has grown more than even Cancun,” Raymundo Muñiz,events director at the Hotel Cacao in Playa del Carmen,told Fortune. “Development is moving up the Riviera Maya. There’s been a ton of growth.”
Or,to put it another way,last year a record-breaking 25.9 million visitors from the United States alone visited Mexico,which remains the most popular destinations for U.S. tourists traveling abroad,in a dramatic increase of 24 percent. In addition,the Cancun International Airport received more than 17 million visitors in 2014,a rise of 15.9 million from the year before,while the island of Cozumel reported a 24 percent increase in cruise ship arrivals.
Jennifer Smith owns the Turtle Bay Café in Akumal,which is a small town that lies just south of Cancun and Playa del Carmen,and just north of Tulum. She has reportedly lived in the Riviera Maya for more than 17 years and has noticed a big change during that time.
“Tulum was just a hippie refuge that started to change 10 years ago,” she shared.
Susan Bohlkan,who moved here in 1993 and now owns Tulum’s Zamas hotel,also agrees that the area has evolved quite a bit over the last couple of decades.
“Tulum has really transformed. This entire coast has been developed since we first came to the area.”
To get an idea of the transformation that towns are undergoing throughout Mexico’s Riviera Maya,Fortune visited Tulum’s Ana y Jose hotel and spa,which has preserved the “essence of” a beachside cabana,but has transformed the back-to-nature cabins that once dotted Tulum’s coast. Today,the hotel has 23 rooms and one villa,all of which are suite-style and no unit is connected to any other room. The cabanas cost between $500 and $900 per night during the high season and the hotel entertains affluent visitors from around the world.
Although the area may be growing rapidly,Fortune is also quick to point out that it has managed to retain many elements of its original charm,and that local and federal officials are fiercely protective of the region’s natural resources. Still,the Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau has just released statistics the first half of 2015,showing that hotels in the area recorded occupancy rates of 93 percent,representing an increase of 2.5 percent compared to the same period last year.
“If 2014 is any indication,we are confident that 2015 will be another record-breaking year for Cancun,” stated Jesus Almaguer,CEO of the CVB.
This is outpacing the rest of the Caribbean,where occupancy rates have hovered at just 67 percent during the first half of this year.
“The CVB attributes the growth in tourism numbers to a plethora of hotel renovations and attraction openings,increased flight connectivity and to Cancun’s growing reputation as a first class holiday destination for service and quality,” writes Breaking Travel News.