Many of Mexico's most popular beach resorts have been given the go-ahead to reopen this week.
Hotels in the state of Quintana Roo, which is home to tourist towns such as Cancún, Tulum and Playa del Carmen, began reopening on Monday in a bid to boost the country's ailing economy. Job losses have spiralled in Mexico during the coronavirus crisis, with a reported 346,000 already lost by mid-April, including around 80,000 in Quintana Roo alone.
The state is crucial to the country's tourism economy with more than 110,000 hotel rooms on offer. It was the most visited region of Mexico last year, attracting 22.8 million tourists.
Although open, the mega-resorts that line Mexico's Carribean coast could feel like ghost towns this summer, with capacity cut to around 30 per cent.
Rigorous new hygiene measures have also been implemented. At the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel in Cancún, buffets have been eliminated, spa treatments reduced and their signature swim-up bars will not be in operation. Chlorine levels will be elevated in all pools and loungers sanitised after every use. Meanwhile, the upscale Grand Velas Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen will have a resident doctor, offer digital menus in its restaurants and have reduced capacity limits in all public areas.
Chlorine will be elevated in all pools and lounges sanitised after each use in Cancun. Photo: iStock
Visitors shouldn't expect business as usual in party towns such as Cancún. Even though hotels are cautiously reopening, public beaches in the area remain closed for now, so the all-day beach raves that the area is known for are certainly off the cards.
The strict measures aren't deterring hospitality businesses in the region, with 4,300 companies already applying for an optional health certificate which declares they are taking sufficient measures to combat the spread of Covid-19.
Initially, the state is looking to drive domestic tourism, as many international flight routes remain suspended. The US and Mexico border will be closed until at least June 22, but the local Government hopes that American tourists will be able to return this summer and that some airlines will look to resume operations to the region in July. Visitors from further afield are expected later in the year. When flights do resume, those arriving will undergo health screenings and temperature checks at airports.
Keen to get tourism back on track as soon as possible, hotels in Cancún are hoping to attract visitors with discounts and incentives. More than 200 businesses in the town have set up a private initiative to offer travellers money off, with deals such as two nights free for every two nights booked, or a free stay for two children when two adults book.
Mexico's response to the virus has been heavily criticised by its citizens. A recent YouGov poll suggested that the Government has the joint-lowest approval rating worldwide for how they have managed the crisis – along with Britain. The spread of the virus in Quintana Roo has so far been relatively contained, with 2,116 cases recorded, as opposed to Mexico City's 29,580.
The Telegraph, London