When it comes to travel for the rest of 2020, the pickings for U.S. travelers are pretty slim. With Mexico being one of the only countries that will welcome U.S. travelers for the foreseeable future, it's safe to say the destination is back in business.
Still, with Covid-19 cases on the rise, especially in places with a high volume of movement, the question of how and where to travel safely is raised again.
I spent last week interviewing several people on the ground in various parts of Mexico to learn how each destination is handling the reopening. The government of Mexico has left reopening strategies up to the state governments, so there are slight differences from destination to destination. Some destinations are doing a better job than others, so if your clients are looking to minimize their Covid-19 footprint when they travel, there are a few things to keep in mind.
The term "Covid footprint" refers to the amount of risk a traveler puts themselves or others in throughout the course of travel. This applies to everyone who the traveler encounters in transit as well as the locals and staff on the ground with whom the traveler comes into contact.
As travel starts to slowly pick up, especially to countries like Mexico where medical resources can be more limited than in other countries, minimizing a Covid footprint is more important than ever. Social distancing and wearing a mask, particularly in indoor public spaces, are two ways to have a low-impact and safe vacation.
Choosing vacation experiences that lend themselves to social distancing is a popular strategy for reducing a Covid-19 footprint. Mexico has a ton of options to help achieve this.
Booking boutique hotels, for example, is one way to maintain social distancing. If your clients can swing a buyout for a group trip, that's even better.
"Boutique isn't for the masses," said Ariela Kiradjian, co-founder and COO of the Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association. "It's for someone who wants a specialized experience that no one else is getting." Boutique hotels are traditionally smaller properties, as well, with a smaller staff and far less daily foot traffic.
Another option is to book private villas. Private villas ensure that your clients are the only people who will be on the property, with the exception of staff. Most of Mexico's tourist destinations have, at this point, stringent measures for hospitality workers, including daily temperature checks, personal protective equipment and informational training sessions.
Journey Mexico, a luxury destination management company, has a collection of more than 125 villas across the country, which have all been hand-picked by their experts. The Villas by Journey Mexico program includes the services of the company's staff of experts, from tours and transportation to concierge services and itineraries.
Opting for destinations or brands that require masks in indoor public spaces is another opportunity to reduce the Covid-19 footprint. Los Cabos, for example, has made it mandatory to wear masks within public spaces in all of their hotels.
"We can do more to protect each other and our associates who are here to welcome and take care of you," Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, said in a video address in late July. "Health experts have made it clear that wearing face coverings in public spaces is one of the easiest steps that we can all take to protect one another and reduce the spread of Covid-10. Given the recent spikes across the U.S. and with guidance from health officials, we are now extending the requirement to wear face masks in all indoor public spaces of hotels to our guests, no matter the jurisdiction."
This new standard came from guidelines put forward from the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Hyatt has followed suit across its brands in Mexico, as well.
Finally, opting for activities in nature, with fewer crowds, is another way to enjoy a low-impact Mexico vacation.
For example, Mexico has 40 biosphere reserves across the country. Sian Ka'an in Quintana Roo has more than 1,000 square miles of jungle, coast and lagoon. There is also Islas Marietas National Park in Riviera Nayarit, which is a cluster of islands and a federally protected reserve, only accessible through approved tour companies. Only 117 people per day are permitted to visit, so social distancing is baked right in.
It's important to note that the decision to travel right now is an extremely personal one. The CDC says that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from Covid-19. That said, should your clients be ready for travel, there are ways to have a safe and enjoyable vacation.