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Cancun: crisis in the Caribbean

Hotel occupancy rates have seen a 14% drop whilst the destination face a rise in security, connectivity and promotion problems.

Lately, bad news seems to be the norm for Cancun. The most important coastal holiday destination in Mexico, and one of the most important ones in Latin America, seems to be facing a serious crisis. The latest slap in the face for the managers and business people in this destination has been the inclusion of Cancun in the list of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world for the first time. According to the report published by the Citizens Advice Bureau for Public Security and Criminal Justice, Cancun is the thirteenth most dangerous city in the world based on its homicide rate per population (547 homicides in 2018).

This further undermines the destination’s badly damaged reputation. This is in addition to the problems related to reduced flight connectivity with key markets and less investment in promotion after the dissolution of the Tourism Promotion Board of Mexico.

As a result, numerous hotels have confirmed that demand and reservations for the destination have shown a clear downturn in the first months of the year. The occupancy rates have fallen by up to 14%, according to Apple Leisure Group, one of the main tourist operators for the destination.

Given the situation, Mabrian Technologies, a company that specialises in data analytics for the tourism sector has carried out a study based on the observation of transactional and behavioural data in relation to the destination. This has generated more insightful knowledge of the current situation and the perspectives.

Perceived security: a key aspect

One of the most delicate, difficult to manage, aspects for a destination is its security reputation. In order to measure this aspect, Mabrian’s Travel Intelligence platform calculates the Perceived Security index by analysing semantic data feelings from tourist mentions on Social Networks in relation to the destination. This index collects all the visitors’ interactions on Social Networks which include a negative comment regarding security and represents this as an index from 100 to 0 in order to follow its evolution and compare it with the perceived security of other destinations.

In order to analyse Cancun and its most direct competitors’ situation, 4.2 million tourist mentions from 2018 have been analysed.

As shown in the data, there has been a drop in the Security Perception for Cancun year-on-year in the main markets of origin for the destination. This is especially so in the case of Canadians and Americans, the two most important international markets for Cancun. Only the Spanish market appears to have less sensitivity in this aspect. In fact, it has shown an increase in this index, despite having the second worst index in the markets studied.

If we compare this same index between Cancun and its main competitors in the Caribbean, we can observe that the Mexican destination offers a lower perception of security in general. This decrease is especially relevant to the Canadian, American and German markets.

Air connectivity: the gateway

Direct air connectivity for the Caribbean holiday destinations is key to measuring the ease of access for the main international markets of origin. To this end, Mabrian Technologies has also analysed the current situation and future perspectives concerning the programmed seats for Cancun and its main Caribbean competitors from the most important markets of origin. The total volume of seats programmed for the period of 1st March to 31st December 2019 has been analysed.

If we examine the evolution of the total seats, despite Cancun’s position as the destination with the biggest number of seats, it is the only one of the main Caribbean destinations which has shown a decrease. It has 389,000 seats less in comparison with the same period the previous year.

This fall in Cancun’s air connectivity is a result of the drop in its leading market, the USA, with 350,000 seats less. This contrasts sharply with the other analysed destinations which have a rise in seats for this market.  This is particularly the case for the Dominican Republic and Jamaica whose seats have risen 420,000 and 120,000 respectively.

However, this trend appears to be reversed if we consider the German market. For the latter, there has been a drop in the programmed seats in the competing destinations, especially in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, while the number of seats for Cancun have increased.

In spite of this increase, and the growth of seats observed from the other markets which have been analysed for Cancun, the destination has not been able to compensate for the loss of its principal market.

In light of this revealing data shared by Mabrian Technologies, in addition to the complaints of the private sector about the lack of tourism promotion due to the sudden closure of the Tourism Promotion Board of Mexico, Cancun’s status as the preferred Caribbean tourist destination for important markets such as the USA seems to be threatened.

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