Unpredictable lengths of stay will disappear as a pilot program is tested in Cancun. Tourists arriving in the popular destination will now automatically receive 180 days to stay in Mexico, which will be a breath of fresh air for Digital Nomads, who utilise long stays. Cancun’s tourism industry is likely to receive a further boost thanks to this announcement. Under the Forma Multipla Migratoria (FMM) system, some tourists were reportedly left at the mercy of individual immigration officers, with many travellers saying that they were granted a stay of significantly fewer than 180 days, especially during the pandemic.

The world is becoming less apprehensive about the pandemic

According to GlobalData’s 2022 Q2 Global Consumer Survey, which focuses on consumer attitudes towards Covid-19, Mexican respondents are becoming less apprehensive about the pandemic. In Q2, less than half (40%) of Mexican consumers stated that they were still ‘extremely concerned’ about the pandemic, compared to Q2 of 2021, which showed over half (54%) of Mexican respondents giving the same response. Global concern has also fallen, from 39% in Q2 2021 to 30% in Q2 2022. These results show that sentiment among respondents, both in Mexico and globally, is shifting to a more positive outlook regarding the pandemic. As such, Mexican residents and businesses are more likely to be open to the idea of welcoming more inbound tourists, who in turn are more willing to travel.

Ease of access can affect travel flows

Cancun, along with Santa Lucia, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, and San José del Cabo, are taking part in a pilot program where most passengers will simply receive a passport stamp. Certain exceptions to this are tourists from certain countries that only allow shorter stays, such as Brazil (30-day visa), and travellers with work or student visas, but even these travellers are to use the online system as a way to help mitigate immigration wait times. Mexico is seeing a strong demand from international travellers, and so this removal of the FMM paperwork in these pilot cities has come at an opportune time. Prior to August, all travellers had the option to complete Mexico’s FMM paperwork ahead of their trip online, only to then be made to complete the documentation in person, causing delays at airport security and immigration checkpoints.

Executive President of the Mexican Association of Travel Agencies in Quintana Roo, Sergio Gonzalez Rubiera, said eliminating the paperwork would reduce the process from approximately an hour to just minutes. Rubiera also revealed the new system would soon be available in other airports in Mexico. This has the potential to be positive for the Mexican tourism industry, with targeted marketing building on the fact that the country is a popular destination for sun and beach holidays. This holiday type is the most widely taken by global travellers, according to GlobalData’s 2021 Q3 Consumer Survey, with 57% of global respondents stating they take holidays of this type.

Over half (52%) of all global respondents also view accessibility as important when planning a trip, and while this refers to direct flights, it can also be applied to the levels of hassle travellers face once they arrive at a destination, with travellers potentially avoiding those destinations with long immigration and security wait times, something that the removal of FMM paperwork has mitigated.

Balance is key for Mexico’s tourism recovery

Communication and collaboration with travel and tourism companies across Mexico is essential. Nevertheless, Mexico’s removal of FMM paperwork in Cancun Santa Lucia, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, and San José del Cabo could potentially make 2022’s summer tourism season a pivotal one for the country’s economic recovery.