MEXICO CITY (AP) — International tourism in Mexico has finally surpassed pre-pandemic levels, after 10.26 million visitors came to the country in the first half of 2022, Mexico’s Tourism Department reported Friday.
International arrivals from January to June 2022 were up 1.5% from the 10.11 million tourists who arrived in Mexico in the first half of 2019.
Mexico’s strongest showing was with U.S. tourists. The number of Americans arriving by air in the first six months of the year was 6.66 million; that is 19.1% higher than in the same period of 2019.
It is not clear whether the war in Ukraine may have played a role in convincing some Americans to vacation closer to home.
The challenge for Mexico’s most popular tourism destinations — the beaches of the Caribbean coast — is no longer COVID, against whose spread Mexico never imposed any flight bans, testing or mask requirements. Rather, it is the masses of foul-smelling sargassum seaweed that have accumulated at some points along the coast.
Sargassum was not much of a problem on Mexico’s Caribbean coast before it began drifting ashore in 2014 and 2015. 2022 appears likely to be a particularly bad year.
As a whole, Mexico’s economy grew by 1% in the second quarter, the national statistics agency said Friday.
Economic growth for the first half of 2022 now amounts to 1.9%,after an expansion of 0.9% in the first three months of the year. The Treasury Department said later that growth for the first half of the year totaled 2%.
The economy recovered by 5% in 2021 following a steep drop during the coronavirus pandemic.
But growth is expected to slow amid high interest rates and an economic downturn in the United States, by far Mexico’s largest trading partner.