Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) has extended the closure of the Chichen Itza archaeological site through April 4. The decision comes ahead of Easter week and is intended to help keep crowds at a minimum.
According to representatives from the tourism board for the state of Yucatan, INAH officials can extend the closure date if they feel it is necessary. Chichen Itza is the most visited archaeological site in Mexico. The INAH closed the site ahead of the spring equinox (March 20), choosing to broadcast the annual festivities it hosts at the site rather than hold them in person.
Mexico's tourist destinations in general have been taking additional precautions for the spring break travel season. The temporary closing of Chichen Itza came in advance of the expected increase of both domestic and international tourists surrounding the Easter holiday and spring travel.
The equinox event at Chichen Itza is part of what makes it one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The position of the sun creates the illusion that a snake is slithering down the steps of El Castillo pyramid. It is a testament to the mathematical and astronomical genius of the Mayans. The event draws thousands of visitors on this day alone.
Chichen Itza is one of the most popular day trips from Cancun. In 2019, Cancun saw 20,000 spring breakers, according to the Yucatan Times, and more than 500,000 tourists for Semana Santa (Holy Week), according to the Riviera Maya Times. And while numbers for March 2021 are expected to be down by more than 37%, the gathering of large groups is something that tourism officials want to curb.