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The Mexican state of Yucatan had a remarkable year in 2019, welcoming an increasing number of visitors and making huge investments in its tourism offerings. And even through the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state is dedicated to improving its tourism infrastructure and emerging as a better destination, all while continuing to welcome U.S. travelers.
Here, the state’s minister of tourism, Michelle Fridman, shares updates and insights on what travelers can expect from a Yucatan vacation.
What should clients who are planning to travel to Mexico know about traveling to the state of Yucatan?The state of Yucatan is an open destination for every traveler right now. Yucatan has been doing a really good job with health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, while also preparing to become a destination with high standards for biosecurity. We have our own certification program for our entire industry — airlines, airports, transportation, hotels, restaurants and guides — in order to offer a safer destination. Most of our infrastructure and services are currently open. But COVID-19 is a crisis that we have to deal with, and keep dealing with during the next months.
What’s the biggest challenge your team is facing now?I’d say the challenges are also opportunities. We’ve been using this crisis not only to survive, but also to become a better destination.
In the last few months, we’ve been creating different strategies to become a more intelligent destination, with more digital and technological experiences. For example, most of the menus in our restaurants are already available with a QR code, and many new hotels offer the opportunity to check in through a cell phone. That way, visitors don’t even have to visit the front desk to check in; they can go straight to their room with their smartphone.
How else is Yucatan evolving right now?From the beginning of this administration, we’ve been working on the goal of becoming a sustainable destination. For example, during the shutdown, we created a program of certification for cenotes, which we didn’t have before. We’ve been working on different programs for decentralizing tourism. We not only have Chichen Itza and Merida, we have 106 different municipalities. We want tourism to become a development opportunity for each one of them. We created different programs in our Maya villages, for example.
What are some of Yucatan’s main draws for travelers during and after COVID-19?We know right now that tourists are more willing to go and visit archeological sites, natural reserves and beaches because [they offer] open spaces. Yucatan state has a lot of things to offer: the magical town of Valladolid; the colonial city of Izamal, which is a city painted all in yellow; or the amazing and vibrant capital of Merida.
Yucatan as a state is sometimes confused with the Yucatan peninsula, and it’s important for us to let people know that we are not Cancun. Travelers discover that we have pink lakes, beaches full of flamingos, cenotes and archeological sites, and sometimes they regret that they didn’t know about Yucatan before. It’s also important for us to invite people to [engage in] regional travel with our neighbor, Quintana Roo.
How can advisors stay up to date on Yucatan’s offerings?We have a new website, which is an amazing tool. [Advisors] will be able to find products in our different regions. And now they’ll be able to find a lot of information on COVID-19. For example, which companies have the new certification [for COVID-19 safety].
I also want to mention the Tianguis Turistico [conference] in Yucatan. We decided to postpone it because of the COVID-19 crisis, but we will be holding the event in September 2021. So that will also be an amazing opportunity for agents to better get to know Yucatan.
The DetailsYucatan Ministry of Tourismwww.yucatan.travel