Cancun Sun: November 27, 2022
Demand for the once-popular Mexican Caribbean vacation destination Tulum has fallen in recent months as high prices and a wealth of popular alternatives draw visitors away. Tulum has long since been a popular alternative to nearby Cancun, a place where travelers could leave the hustle and bustle of the big city in favor of destinations with both a more local charm and plenty to see and do. This year, however, it seems that travelers may be prioritizing their vacation spending in other places.
The news is bound to come as a blow to authorities in the region, but with the Maya train nearing completion and the plans to build an airport in the town firmly in the pipeline, it might just be an untimely blip rather than a significant sea change. Here’s a look at why travelers are choosing to visit rival destinations instead and what the future may hold for Tulum.
Tulum Suffers Popularity Blow – Information For Travelers
On the face of it, Tulum has everything a traveler could need. Stunning beaches, jungle, and seas for nature lovers, ancient Mayan temple ruins for history and culture fans, and lively beach clubs for those who just want to let loose on their vacations. However, recent reports have shown that instead of building on its past successes like other destinations in the region, Tulum hasn’t just stagnated but gone backwards – and there are several reasons why this has happened.
For a start, prices in the town have bordered on the ridiculous for several months now. Whilst taxis in Cancun have always had a bad rep, those in Tulum have taken it to another level, with some travelers quoted as much as $100 for a two-kilometer ride. On top of that, with record-breaking numbers of travelers looking to come to the region, some have been quoted as much as $1,000 a night for a basic room without air conditioning. Whilst Cancun isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no denying that there’s far better value to be found there.
Tulum has carved out a name for itself as somewhat of a party destination, with its clubs and laid-back atmosphere seemingly a massive draw for travelers – but its reputation as a fun place to go could also be in jeopardy. The town has recently brought in laws to limit its noise levels at night, abruptly ending parties for many travelers, whilst those who do stick it out have been charged as much as $10,000 for reserving a table.
The town’s popularity levels grew exponentially in 2020, as Mexico became one of the first countries to remove its Covid-19 restrictions and welcome travelers back in. Now, as we approach 2023, other countries have long since reopened, and it is believed that the likes of Mykonos, Ibiza, and Saint Tropez have reclaimed American travelers once more – places where travelers certainly won’t have to worry about the party finishing early.
The recovery of these popular European destinations has hit Tulum hard in the pocket. According to findings from Dinero, Tulum has lost between 50-70% of the income it once collected from travelers. With the rest of the Mexican Caribbean looking to break records and reel in travelers by the airplane-load, Tulum’s aggressive pricing strategies and poor value in the eyes of travelers could see it suffer more – both at the hands of international destinations and the likes of Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Playa Del Carmen, and Bacalar – a place already being described at the next Tulum.
Whilst the figures quoted in recent stories are exorbitantly expensive, there’s still a hope that Tulum will see sense and land on its feet once more. A true Mexican gem, there’s a reason it captured the hearts of so many travelers back in 2020 – but if it doesn’t address the pricing issues or embrace what made it so captivating in the first place, its time as one of the top places to visit in the country could be over.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.