CANCUN, QUINTANA ROO (March 24, 2021). — Feeling he can now travel internationally without risking his life, recently-vaccinated American Brian Sheppard hopped on a plane to Mexico’s top beach resort a few days ago to attend the wedding of one of his best friends.
Like other major Mexican tourist draws, Cancun’s all-inclusive hotels along wide stretches of white sand beaches on the Caribbean are benefiting from the steady if uneven global march of coronavirus vaccinations as Mexico prepares for a rebound from one of the worst-ever years for its crucial tourism sector.
While the U.S. Spring Break season has so far been relatively muted in Mexico, summer bookings are seeing between 48.7% and 61.5% occupancy at the main tourist destinations, up dramatically from 2020 when properties stood mostly empty, according to government estimates.
U.S. travelers in particular are seen feeling more confident thanks to the increasing application of coronavirus vaccines.
Battered shares of Mexican hotel companies have already begun to recover as the expectation of sunnier times takes hold.
Shares of Grupo Hotelero Santa Fe, which operates properties in Mexican beach destinations including Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta, have rebounded by more than a third since last November when they hit a record low.
FibraHotel, meanwhile, with a similar profile of hotels has fared even better, with its shares up nearly 70% since May, when they also slumped to their lowest-ever level.
The expected summertime boom is a welcome postcard for Mexico’s ailing economy as tourist spending comprised nearly 9% of gross domestic product in pre-pandemic 2019.
As he finished dinner at a beachfront restaurant, Sheppard confessed he almost turned down his friend’s wedding invite.
“I was gonna miss it,” said the 38-year-old nurse from Cleveland, Ohio, even after receiving his two-shot vaccine. The jabs, he said, gave him the confidence he needed to conquer his fears. “I’d traveled to a few places in my home state, but nowhere really far away.”