Last year 10.6 million people visited the archaeological zones and 8.7 million museums administered by the INational Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). The figures are 33 and 23 percent, respectively, below those reported in 2019.
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Travel operators They attribute this trend to the violence and insecurity in the national territory, but also to the lack of promotion by its authorities and a change in habits of cconsumption of travelers, who now seek to live experiences.
In Chiapas, the social conflicts and the violence generated By groups criminal have caused a drop of around five percent in tourist influx to the archaeological zones such as Palenque, in the north of the state, as well as Bonampak and Yaxchilán, in the Lacandona Jungle, explains the president of the Hotel and Motel Association of Central Chiapas, Manuel Niño Gutiérrez.
Just at the end of January, the company ATC Touroperadores (Tourist Hosts of Chiapas) announced the rescheduling of his visits to the Lacandona Jungle region—where the archaeological zones of Bonampak and Yaxchilán—due to clashes between the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and the Sinaloa Cartel (CDS).
According to local tour operators, armed groups They control access to communities surrounding the archaeological zones, rivers and lagoons in the Ocosingo region, where they demand fees and allow them access at specific times and even impose security guards, whom they must pay to enter the tourist areas.
The arrival of tourists to Palenque from San Cristóbal de las Casas is also affected by the Social problems in the municipality of Oxchuc, where indigenous communities They face the election of their municipal authorities due to their system of uses and customs and, consequently, they generate road blockades.
“When a turista is located in Tuxtla Gutiérrez and goes to San Cristóbal de las Casas, we tell you to return and, if you want to go to Palenque, to take the Ocozocoautla de Espinosa-Raudales Malpaso highway or the Villahermosa-Palenque, a road a little further faster, safer… What I advise is that whoever decides to travel to Palenque goes with a tour operator that will take them, guide them and move them along where the route is safest,” adds Manuel Niño Gutiérrez.
The manager of the Travel agency Exodus in Ocosingo, Roxana Magdalena Gordillo, agrees that the problem in visiting these sites is insecurity and social conflicts, but also the lack of communication routes and services.
“In Palenque, the most attractive thing is the archaeological area and from this municipality we take tourists to the Lacandon Jungle without passing through Ocosingo and without reaching the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas,” he explains.
In their desire to ensure that tourism does not move away, tour operators travel through alternative routes so that tourists do not perceive the locks or armed people and when they come across these groups they seek to negotiate so that they are allowed safe passage.
“When the vehicle with tourists reaches a point where there is a gunfight, you realize that the Lacandon and Chole natives have offensive strength to confront the Mexican Army and National Guard, then it is not worth risking the lives of tourists,” explains a spokesperson for the ATC agency.
Bad reputation and new habits
Teotihuacan in the Mexico state was the busiest in 2019, but last year it was displaced by Chichén Itzá, Yucatán, to second place, registering 1.6 million visitors less than in the year before the pandemic.
An employee of Gorilla Toursa company that has been offering trips to the site, regrets that the authorities do not do the tourism promotion necessary and do not regularize service providers and commerce.
“We need an order tourist by the authorities in different areas, the same among the service providers, as in the transportation and trade. We work 70 percent with foreigners and they come because they know the importance of the pyramids,” he says.
The prohibition to climb the pyramids of The Sun and the Moon, added to the unsafetywith cases of floor collection and bus robberyhave reduced the arrival of visitors.
The operator’s employee acknowledges that accidents in the ATV rental area or the fall of the hot air balloon last year also affected the image of the place. “It took us three months to recover, since people canceled their visits for fear of going to Teotihuacán and that something similar would happen to them.”
The drop in visitors to archaeological sites and museums in the country compared to its pre-pandemic level is due to the preference for new supply and other tourist experiences that arose in the recovery, explains Mexico Felipe Cervantes, president of the Mexican Association of Travel Agencies (AMAV).
“After the pandemic, people’s shopping habits changed, they look for places without so many restrictions, that makes archaeological zones “don’t be a trigger for people to visit them,” he says.
Nowadays, adds the manager, there is a greater supply of culinary, cultural experiences and entertainment for tourists near these areas, such as food tours, by bicycle or visits to communities, which are more attractive to tourists.
“There is more product supply while the archaeological zones They continue to preserve the theme of the visit of what they represent, there is nothing new,” he says.
Cervantes gives as an example the case of Teotihuacanin the State of Mexico, where there are more and more people who look for balloon flights and see the pyramids from the air, so when they go down they no longer enter the area and that has an impact on the entry registration.
The agent emphasizes that it is a global phenomenon. In Egypt, for example, tourists are also looking for new experiences and demand for tickets to some has fallen. pyramid areas.
In the Caribbean, where the archaeological area of Tulum, Darío Flota, former secretary of Tourism of Quintana Roo and former director of the Trust of Tourist Promotion of the state, maintains that the main factor that has stopped the tourist recovery In the archaeological zones, the number of cruise passengers, who are the ones who visit these sites the most, has not recovered either.
Eduardo Paniagua, a travel agent with more than 25 years of experience and former president of the AMAV, agrees that the lack of tourists in the archaeological zones It is due to a change in trends after the pandemic.
The tourists They are now looking for other options such as cenotes and natural areas or the great offer of theme parkss in Quintana Roo, such as Xcaret, Xplore, Xel-Ha and Xochimilco.
TOO MUCH ALCOHOL
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In Morelos, the site archaeological dTepozteco has not recovered its pre-pandemic influx either. According to INAH data, from 2019 to 2023 the number of annual visitors fell from 370,458 to 265,924.
Adrián Cortés, from the operator of travel services Tepoztlán Adventures, assures that in addition to a growing insecurity in the state, they are affected by the excessive sale of alcohol in the Magic Town.
“People no longer focus on coming to learn about a cultural topic. They focus on coming to drink, they are no longer interested in climbing the pyramid and they stay in the center of town, where the alcohol sales are,” says Cortés. With information from Emmanuel Ruiz /El Sol de Cuautla, Sandra Hernández /El Sol de Toluca and Víctor Flores /Correspondent