The impact of Covid-19 measures on the leisure and hospitality industry in Mexico

Monday 14 June 2021

Jesús Manuel Colunga Victoria

Basham, Ringe y Correa, S.C, Mexico


The leisure and hospitality industry in Mexico represents one of the biggest sources of income; according to the Mexican National Industry of Statics and Geography (INEGI), tourism and hotel business represents 8.7% of the gross domestic product and an approximate of 6% of the total jobs in Mexico. It is estimated that in 2019, Mexico received 45 million international tourists.

In addition to the foregoing, there are states in the country that depend 90% on tourism- such as Baja California Sur, Quintana Roo and Mexico City, amongst others. Therefore, the arrival of Covid-19 to Mexico and the subsequent travel bans and international and local restrictions represented a huge challenge to its economy and particularly to the tourist, leisure and hospitality sector.

The Ministry of Interior has established the ‘Epidemiological Traffic Light towards a New Normality’, a system that regulates the use of public space according to the risk of infection from Covid-19, including mobility and economic and public interaction, among others. The traffic light is tiered as follows:

  • Red: during this stage, only essential economic activities will be allowed to be performed (that is, mining, strategic sectors, etc.).
  • Orange: in addition to essential economic activities, companies in non-essential economic areas will be allowed to work with 30% of the staff for their operation, always taking into account the maximum care measures for vulnerable individuals. Further, open public spaces will be opened with a reduced capacity (number of people).
  • Yellow: all work activities are allowed, provided high measure precautions towards vulnerable individuals are adopted. Open public spaces will be opened on a regular basis, and closed public spaces can be opened with reduced and controlled capacity.
  • Green: all activities will be open and allowed, including school activities.

It is important to highlight that the leisure industry (which includes hospitality, sports, restaurants, etc.) is not considered as an essential activity. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Mexican health authorities have mentioned that based in the importance in Mexico of this industry, there are two levels that define its operation to this date, one with red flag and the other with an orange flag.  In particular to leisure activities, this implies the following:

  • Red flag suggests a 25% occupancy derived from individuals performing essential activities and no common areas occupancy, subject to compliance to certain federal and local health guidelines, including through local or domestic tourism.
  • Orange flag comprise a 50% occupancy and the opening of common areas at 50% capacity.

On the other hand, there are four destinations in the country that have already adopted international protocols to receive visitors safely, being these Cancun, Yucatan, Baja California Sur and Riviera Nayarit.

In addition, the Hotel Industry of Quintana Roo has opened its operations as of 1 June 2020 functioning only the 20% of their total capacity. Such Industry is also complying with at least 140 protocols in order to guaranteeing the safety of their guests.

Jalisco’s government issued an Action Protocol for Tourism Sector containing sanitary measures and good practices, as well as a basic orientation regarding norms and applicable legislation in order to promote the compliance with a healthy hygienic environment that guarantees the manage and protection, as a result of Covid-19 pandemic. Such measures may minimise and prevent the risk of getting Covid-19 among the personnel, suppliers and clients of the leisure industry during the ‘New Normality’. That protocol covers from the cleaning of establishments, reception of food and measures to be taken care by the workers, among others.

A daily monitoring is implemented for leisure activities which comprises all the variables and parameters to identify the magnitude of the pandemic risk. The results of this monitoring process are scheduled to be communicated on a weekly basis, and leisure economic agents shall comply with the measure resolved by the health authorities.

Mexico is adopting protocols with the objective to standardise security measures as in other countries. These measures are a series of manuals for hotels, shops, restaurants, airports, airlines, travel operators, car rentals and convention centres and are related to the development of security measures such as cleaning and disinfection of spaces, food handling or basic health checks, such as taking temperatures or access to a doctor immediately.

Without a doubt, leisure industry will be among the industries that more rapidly will recover due to the importance within Mexican Economy.  These measures resulting from the COVID pandemic will most certainly continue within the leisure industry and will set a standard as to guidelines leisure users expect to receive from this day onwards. Leisure entities and agents that fall behind these rules and measures, will not be up to the international expected standard, which may have an impact in its income and projections.