Looking to boost tourism across the wider historical region that is the ‘Mundo Maya‘, Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, and Guatemala have all teamed up to launch new tourism routes that will improve connectivity in the area, besides facilitating cross-border travel for visitors.
The Mayan World is a 1,440-mile long archeological circuit that encompasses four countries in Central America and five states in the south of Mexico. The zone is famous around the world for its well-preserved pre-Columbian monuments and shared culture.
‘Without Connectivity There Is No Tourism’
Recognizing that ‘without connectivity there is no tourism‘, the five partner countries have agreed to create new itineraries that will allow travelers to explore the Mayan World more thoroughly. As stated by the Mexican Tourism Minister, Miguel Torruco Marqués, only in this way will tourism be an “efficient tool for social reconciliation”.
Mexico is a founding member of the Mundo Maya Organization, which has among its goals the promotion of sustainable tourism programs across the five participating nations. As noted by Marqués in as early as 2019, demand for Mayan tourism is high, with about 50 million international arrivals recorded in participating countries that year.
Dubbing it ‘Phase 1 of the Reactivation of the Mundo Maya Connectivity‘, Marqués celebrated the launch of a new Cancún-Flores route, which further bridged the gap between one of the Mexico’s leading tourist destinations and Guatemala’s most famous gateway to the Mayan World.
The new Aeromar-operated direct flights will offer tourists in Cancún the opportunity to reach Guatemala’s Mayan hotspots in just under 2 hours. Better air connectivity seems to be only the beginning, with Marqués citing other natural and cultural attractions across the Mayan heartland that could also be covered by the program, such as the:
- The Great Blue Hole, a sinkhole off the coast of Belize and a favorite among visitors;
- The UNESCO-protected ‘Joya de Cerén‘ archeological zone in El Salvador;
- The Rio Plátano Biosphere Reserve on the Caribbean coast of Honduras;
- Guatemala’s world-renowned Tikal National Park, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site;
- Mexico’s ‘Cañón del Sumidero‘, a large natural canyon situated north of Chiapa de Corzo.
In a recent statement, the Minister called the “first phase” of the project a “complete success“, highlighting the integration between the tourist zones in the southeast of Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. He also offers us a glimpse into the next phase, which “will continue with El Salvador and Belize”.
We still do not know, at this stage, how both countries will benefit from the program, or whether “phase two” will again consist of new travel corridors such as the newly-announced Cancún-Flores route, although it is safe to say stronger regional integration is at the forefront of this project.
Although not mentioned specifically by Marqués, Mexico’s soon-to-be-launched Tren Maya, a scenic train connecting several cities along the Riviera Maya, will also make the lesser-known destinations of Maya Kaán and Rio Hondo much more accessible.
Mundo Maya Countries Are Among The Easiest For Americans To Visit Right Now
Despite having varying degrees of Covid restrictions, the Mundo Maya nations are still one of the easiest for Americans to travel to right now. While Mexico has removed all existing entry requirements, including the pre-departure Vuela Seguro registration form, neighboring nations have other requirements.
Much like Mexico, El Salvador has also scrapped both vaccination and testing requirements for U.S. citizens visiting, though the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador still advises travelers to confirm their airlines are aware of the change and will allow them to board without presenting extra Covid documentation.
Belize, on the other hand, requires visitors to purchase local health insurance and present a negative test upon entry, regardless of vaccination status. Honduras also allows entry to both the vaccinated and unvaccinated, so long as the latter can produce a negative PCR or antigen test, dated no more than 72 hours before arriving in the country.
Guatemala is the most restrictive out of the five, with most Americans expected to have a full course of vaccination, as well as a negative PCR or antigen test not older than 3 days preceding arrival. Guatemala will also accept an official proof of medical contraindication that prevents an individual from getting vaccinated.
In summary, vaccinated American tourists can expect to travel smoothly around the region, while those yet to be immunized may face additional restrictions in select destinations such as Honduras and Guatemala. There are direct commercial flights from several U.S. departure points to all five countries in the Mayan World.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com