Pandemic triggered increased poverty in tourist states


Quintana Roo, the largest tourist destination in the country, is the state where poverty increased the most between 2018 and 2020, reported the Coneval.

The pandemic destroyed the economy of the tourist states, which triggered poverty in Quintana Roo, Baja California Sur, and Yucatán.

Between 2018 and 2020, Quintana Roo was crowned the state of the republic where the number of poor people increased the most, going from 546 thousand to 893 thousand, a brutal increase of 63.5%, which extended the percentage of the population living in poverty to almost half of the state (47.5%) reported the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval) in its latest Multidimensional Poverty Estimates. 

Baja California Sur also stood out with an increase of 141 thousand poor people to 223 thousand (+ 58.6%), as well as to a lesser extent Yucatan, which went from 992 thousand to 1.15 million (+ 16.5%). The three states stand out for their tourist importance, which is why the increase in poverty is explained.

During 2020, the global tourism industry suffered its worst contraction in history, registering a 74% drop in the arrival of international visitors, some one million fewer arrivals than in 2019. 

The Americas were the “least affected” region compared to the rest, with a decrease of 47%, however, the collapse was profound in the communities that concentrate tourism from each country. 

Mexico, where the Covid-19 pandemic caused a historic fall of 8.1% in the National GDP in 2020, suffered a 28.4% fall in Tourism GDP, three times greater than the contraction of the national one. While, unlike other countries, Mexico did not close its borders or impose travel restrictions, the drop in traveler confidence and the closure of non-essential activities hit tourist communities hard. 

In Quintana Roo 97 thousand 381 jobs were lost last year. At the beginning of the pandemic, the unemployment rate in the entity shot up from 2.92% in the first quarter to 10% in the third. The case of Baja California Sur also shares the background of the heavy loss of jobs. In the entity, the unemployment rate grew from 3.89% to 7.25%. 

The recovery of employment has been slow because it was not until the second quarter of 2021 that the reopening of economic sectors, including several of the tourist services, was extended. The fall in tourism by air is the main factor that dragged down tourism income, however, the cancellation of all tourist cruises until the middle of 2021 was also key. 

Both entities share the fact that they are important points in the routes of tourism on the high seas since most of the ships made mandatory stops in Cozumel in the Caribbean and Los Cabos in the Pacific, which provided the communities with economic spills with each arrival of a new ship. 

But even when sanitary restrictions were lifted and the advance of vaccination in Mexico and the United States – the country of origin of international tourists – have had a positive effect on tourism, the situation continues to be delicate. 

Uncertain future for tourism

The unemployment figures changed little until the first quarter of 2021 with 8.26% for Quintana Roo and 4.98% for Baja California Sur, and the future remains uncertain for both entities.

The third wave of coronavirus, which has now spread to the entire country, originally began in these two states, because the need to keep the tourism industry afloat exceeded health measures, so neither state even went green in no time unlike most of the country. 

The increase in infections and hospitalizations -which in Baja California Sur reached 75% occupancy- is especially dangerous considering that the multidimensional factor of poverty that grew the most between 2018 and 2020 was the lack of access to health services (of 21% to 35.7%).

The percentage of the population with difficulties in accessing this basic and essential service in times of pandemic went from 15.6% to 24.8% in the Caribbean state, while for Baja Sur it went from 10.7% to 17.4%. 

Even though the increases in both states were lower than the national level (16.2% to 28.2%), the aggressiveness of the virus in both and economic need are the two factors that increased the vulnerability of its population compared to other states, such as the City. of Mexico and the State of Mexico. 

The summer holiday season, still with a third wave, is representing a respite for communities that live off tourism, however, the end of the nightmare is not in sight in the immediate future. 

Most of the experts consulted in the UNWTO survey of expectations do not believe that tourism in the Americas will be able to rebound before 2022, at which point even the full recovery at the pre-pandemic level will remain incomplete. 


Mexico Daily Post