Mexico’s May Foreign Tourism Numbers Up From 2020, Still Down From 2019

New insights have revealed that almost three times as many international tourists visited Mexico this May than did during the same period last year. But, this year’s May tourism volumes still came in 23.2 percent below figures from May 2019.

Data from Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) reveals that nearly 2.66 million international tourists came to Mexico in May, representing close to a 200-percent year-over-year increase over the same month in 2020. In May of last year, with most international borders closed and much of the world in lockdown due to COVID-19, there were only 890,642 foreign visitors, though Mexico remained open to arrivals by air.


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Yet, those numbers haven’t quite rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. In May 2019, 3.46 million international tourists came to Mexico—800,000 more than in May of this year. According to Mexico News Daily, Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco has forecast that the nation’s tourism sector won’t see a complete recovery until 2023.

Just over 1.5 million of May’s international arrivals spent at least one night in the country, while the other 1.15 million were day-trippers near the border.

Among those who stayed overnight, 1.22 million arrived by air, representing a massive 3,273-percent increase over the same month last year, though still down 20.5 percent from May 2019. Border tourists increased 54.1 percent over the same period last year, but were down 25 percent from two years earlier

In May, international tourists spent US$1.59 billion in Mexico, up 931.5 percent in comparison with May 2020, but down 17.9 percent when compared with May 2019. On average, each foreign tourist spent $182, almost triple the $61 spent by each international visitor in the same month of 2020 and also up 67 percent from May 2019, when individuals spent an average of $109 each.

INEGI data showed that foreign tourists who traveled to Mexico by air spent a trip average of $1,062 each, a 42.3-percent increase over May 2020 and also up 5.3 percent from the same month in 2019.

Tourism typically contributes close to nine percent of Mexico’s overall GDP, but it’s a far more vital element of the economy in heavily tourism-dependent areas like Quintana Roo on the east coast and Baja California Sur on the west.

Mexico has kept its air borders throughout the course of the pandemic and hasn’t required incoming international travelers to provide negative COVID-19 tests or submit to a mandatory quarantine in order to enter. As a result, the World Tourism Organization (WHO) estimates that Mexico was the third most-visited country in the world in 2020, behind only Italy and France. While the whole world was still open in 2019, it ranked seventh most-visited.

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