Safer than Pacific Coast, the Riviera Maya is growing at a torrid pace

A real estate boom has turned Playa del Carmen, Tulum and the whole Riviera Maya into one of Mexico’s fastest growing and most successful tourist destinations.

In the last six years, Playa del Carmen has grown even more than Cancun. Development is moving up the Riviera Maya and towards the once remote Tulum.

While some resort cities on Mexico’s Pacific Coast have been hit by hard times, the tourism industry in the Mexican Caribbean, on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, is growing at a torrid pace.

In 2014, a record-breaking 25.9 million U.S. citizens visited Mexico. The nation remains the most popular destination for U.S. tourists.

In 2014, the airport in Cancun received more than 17 million visitors, up from 15.9 million in 2013. The island of Cozumel off the coast from the resort city of Playa del Carmen, saw a 24% jump in cruise ship arrivals.

In 2015, the number of hotel rooms in Quintana Roo increased by 2,276 from 2014.

Since 2000, the Riviera Maya has seen the construction of over 100 new hotels. Overall, the number of tourists visiting the region doubled from just under 2.2 million in 2005 to more than 4.4 million in 2014.

By December 2015, Cancun registers at least 14 four and five diamond luxury hotels, and the Riviera Maya has 16.

Back in 1993, there were about four or five small hotels in Tulum and not more than 30 in Playa del Carmen. (Photo:



Safety in Quintana Roo

Despite the release of travel warnings from the U.S. State Department, visits to Mexico actually increased by 24% in 2014 after a decade of stagnation.

The southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, where the beach city Los Cabos is located, has been recently hit by hurricanes.

The coastal city of Mazatlan in Sinaloa made the news in 2014 as the site of the capture of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman (even though the crime boss escaped for the second time months later).

The tourist town of Puerto Vallarta, that sits on the coast of the state of Jalisco, is an area now partially affected by the emergence of a new military-style drug cartel.

But no Mexican Pacific Coast city, however, has fared worse than Acapulco, a once-great beach town that has suffered through a terrifying period of cartel warfare and still convulses with daily reports of local gangs murdering, extorting, and robbing residents.

Meanwhile, Tulum, which sits along the southern end of the Riviera Maya, continues to be seen as an oasis from violent crime.

The state of Quintana Roo reported 123 murders in 2014, which is roughly 7% of the 1,719 homicides reported in the state of Guerrero during the same period.

The Riviera Maya has benefited from the perception of safety, not to mention its pristine Caribbean beaches.