Riviera Maya is attracting guests with Maya-related activities. // © 2012 Riviera Maya Tourist Board
While many news and media accounts tell a tale of woe for Mexico’s tourism, the numbers coming out of the Riviera Maya tell another story. The Riviera Maya region broke tourism records in 2011, welcoming more than 3.6 million visitors. The Riviera Maya Destination Marketing Office recorded 3,610,367 visitors last year, representing a 7.05 percent increase in overall visitation from 2010 and an increase of more than 200 percent from the year 2000. Of the 10.2 million international travelers that visited Mexico in 2011, 28.4 percent traveled to the Riviera Maya area.
In 2011, the destination also reported 10,197,654 room nights, an increase in 7.9 percent over the previous year. The U.S. continues to remain Riviera Maya’s largest inbound market for tourism, making up more than a third of the destination’s overall visitation.
“Despite the challenges Mexico’s tourism has faced in recent years, Riviera Maya continues to appeal to global visitors as one of the world’s top travel destinations, as demonstrated from our record-breaking year in 2011,” said Dario Flota Ocampo, general director of the Riviera Maya Destination Marketing Office.
Continuing the 2011 trend of growth in visitors and room nights, the destination has also grown in hotel inventory. In the last decade, Riviera Maya has added more than 100 new hotels, which total more than 21,000 hotel rooms with a diverse range of hospitality offerings. Looking forward, the destination is expecting continued growth in the tourism sector with the addition of the upscale Kanai development in 2014, slated to feature several well-known brands including Starwood Hotels & Resorts; the St. Regis Kanai, Resort & Residence; W Retreat Kanai and Kanai Auberge.
In addition to a growing hotel inventory and increased global appeal, 2012 will see the celebration of the end of the Maya calendar and a mythological period of rebirth. Tulum, one of the region’s most popular ancient archeological sites, saw 1,085,288 visitors in 2011 and is expected to see milestone visitation levels in 2012.
“We expect 2012 to be another monumental year in Riviera Maya’s tourism as we enter the beginning of a new era in Maya history and continue to position the area as a mecca for authentic cultural experiences,” said Ocampo.
As the end of the Maya calendar year approaches, agents will see an assortment of packages hitting the market.
Sandos Caracol Eco-Resort and Spa will offer an authentic Mayan Xcalacoco Experience that includes Maya classes in such subjects as language and cooking, Maya-themed spa treatments as well as an on-site Maya herbalist. The resort has also adopted two distinctive-looking Maya warrior dogs, Peeks and Boox.
Azul Hotels by Karisma has the new complimentary “Mini Mayans” Program, which is designed to educate kids about Maya culture, with cooking classes, music, play sessions and storytelling.
The Fairmont Mayakoba will be providing Maya spa treatments, cultural food and drink and expeditions geared towards families with kids.
The Royal Riviera Maya will be offering Maya spa packages geared toward a new beginning as foretold in the Maya calendar.
Xel-ha, Xcaret and Xplor have created a series of events that kicked off last month. These are designed to show visitors the true meaning of the end of the Mayan calendar and a new era of hope.
Looking further into the future, the adventure park Xplor will open the Serpent, the second zipline roller coaster in the world (the first, the Avatar, is also located in the Riviera Maya at Hidden Worlds Adventure Park). The Serpent is scheduled to open in spring 2013.