cancun hotel zone with buildings

A Traffic Decline in Cancun. Is Tulum the Culprit? 

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - June 9, 2024

May was one of the worst-performing months for passenger traffic in Cancun in several years, according to new data from ASUR, which manages Cancun International Airport. 

Passenger traffic in Cancun was 2.438 million in May, a 7.2 percent decline compared to the same period in 2023. 

That included a 2.3 percent reduction in international traffic and a 14.7 percent decline in domestic traffic in Mexico. 

It’s the first major blip of the year for Cancun, whose airport is still ahead of last year’s numbers by 6.4 percent for the first five months of the year. 

While it’s not quite clear the reason for the decline, the Mexican Caribbean’s newest airport could be the culprit: white-hot Tulum, which now has an international airport of its own and is already welcoming a massive number of flights from just about every major US carrier, from American Airlines to Delta (and some Canadian carriers, too).

tulum secrets
The newly-opened Secrets in Tulum.

Tulum is about a two-hour drive from Cancun. When Cancun was the only air hub for getting to Tulum, travelers would have to fly to Cancun and either rent a car or find a transportation company. Now an increasing number of those travelers are simply flying instead to Tulum.

Travel agents and tour operators are echoing that sentiment; ALG Vacations, for example, says Tulum is the most popular destination in the Caribbean right now.

While the numbers wouldn’t mean a decline for tourism to Mexico in general (after all, visitors are still going to a Mexican destination), it could point to the growing significance of Tulum as a tourism power, both in Mexico and the region. 

We’ll see how the rest of 2024 plays out. 

— CJ

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