Tourists dip their toes in water as top Mexican beach getaway reopens
By Jorge Antonio Delgado
CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - Foreign visitors are gradually returning to the white sand and warm water of the Mexican Caribbean coast as the popular beaches are gradually being reopened to tourism with new hygiene measures to prevent the spread of the corona virus.
"I've been stuck in my New York City apartment for three months, so I've decided that an open beach is probably a good call," said 31-year-old web designer Sam Leon after arriving at the famous resort's airport on Saturday was city of Cancun.
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He said he was planning to go to the trendy Tulum beach with a friend and that he had no concerns about possibly taking the virus while traveling because he was in good health.
Others have been equally undeterred, although Mexico has reported record infection rates in recent days and has reached the peak of the pandemic in certain areas. Mexico has recorded a total of 16,448 deaths.
"We travel all the time ... we're really not too worried," said 32-year-old Canadian citizen Brad Kendell, who lives in Panama. He had been in Mexico City with his wife last March when Panama closed the country.
They opted for a "change" to Cancún while waiting for travel restrictions to ease.
About 20 tourists splashed in the water and relaxed on the sand at the Hard Rock Hotel, which reopened along with 16 other beach resorts in Cancun on June 8. Hard Rock said it installed hand sanitizers, accelerated cleaning, and enforced distance rules in the pool and beach areas.
Although hotels can let guests into the water, the public beaches remain closed.
"The most important thing right now is to revitalize the state economy, but we have to be careful about the health of our people," said Carlos Joaquin, governor of the State of Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun, last week.
A complete recovery of the Mexican tourism sector, which accounts for 8.7% of the gross domestic product and employs 4.5 million people, seems far away.
Mexico only had 86,000 foreign visitors in April, compared to 2.8 million in the same month last year, according to official figures.
(Reporting by Jorge Antonio Delgado in Cancun; Additional reporting by Abraham Gonzalez, Diego Ore and Ana Isabel Martinez; Letter from Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
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