Skip to Content

New U.S. Travel Restrictions Could Devastate Mexico Tourism

Share The Article

Last Updated

Other than a complete ban on international travel, it can't get much worse for American travelers hoping to take a vacation abroad. Mexico is also paying the price as its tourism industry was shocked overnight by the Biden administration's new travel restrictions. 

After a new testing requirement mandates all Americans to present proof of a negative Covid-19 antigen test, many travelers were left scrambling on where and how to get testing. Just when Americans thought it couldn't get any harder to travel abroad, Joe Biden announced a new presidential proclamation stating all travelers entering the U.S. from abroad would need to self-quarantine following the CDC's recommended guidelines of 7-10 days. 

American travelers arriving at the Cabo Airport wearing masks

The new testing requirements along with self-quarantine essentially slams the door shut on week long vacations to Mexico. Only those with an extra week to spare for quarantine on top of their vacation will be able to plan a trip south. For many Americans, the extra testing step along with a 7-10 day quarantine upon returning home is causing a large decrease in demand for flights to Mexico. 

United Airlines Reports Drop in Demand For Mexico Beach Destinations

United Airlines told reporters that Mexican vacation destinations have seen the biggest impact since the new testing requirements were announced. 

“The demand trends have not really changed much in most places, including overseas,” Andrew Nocella, United's chief commercial officer said reported Business Insider. “Where they have changed is in the Mexican beach resort destinations and certain Caribbean resort destinations.”

These results were prior to Joe Biden's announcement on the new self-quarantine requirement for American travelers returning home. The new quarantine measures are likely to lead to mass cancelations and a further drop in demand. 

Mexico city cathedral and mexico flag

Mexico Tourism Was Thriving During The Pandemic

Mexico tourism has thrived during the pandemic prior to the new travel restrictions imposed by the Biden administration. Traveling between the United States and Mexico by air was almost just as easy as traveling within the U.S.

The only prior requirement for American travelers visiting Mexico was to fill out an online form prior to arrival. Mexico has been an outlier from the rest of the world with open borders during the pandemic which has allowed beach destinations such as Cancun, Cabo and Puerto Vallarta to thrive.

Americans account for an estimated 75% of international arrivals in Mexico. In 2019, an estimated 32.9 million U.S. tourists visited Mexico. 

During the holiday season Cancun International Airport was seeing over 500 flights per day and ended the year with over 6.8 million international arrivals. 

The top 6 destinations in Mexico received over 22 million international tourists in 2020. While international arrivals were still down around 50% from 2019, Mexico has shown one of the quickest tourism recoveries in the world. 

Puerto vallarta pier

Mexico's Tourism Industry Reacted Quickly To Testing Measures

Mexico was able to react quickly to the new testing measures introduced by the U.S. Large resort chains began offering on-site free testing for hotel guests and destinations such as Cancun, Cabo and Puerto Vallarta have set up dozens of clinics to provide the antigen testing for American travelers.  Mazatlán has announced that they will offer Covid-19 testing at the airport for American and Canadian travelers 

The Quarantines Are An Obstacle For Mexico Tourism

While Mexico was quick to react to the testing which would have provided travelers with easy and cost efficient testing, there is nothing tourism operators can do about the quarantines travelers will face when returning to Canada or the United States. 

Woman at airport wearting mask with luggage
Canadians Face 14 Day Quarantine

Canadians returning home face a mandatory 14 day quarantine and yesterday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that a new mandatory hotel quarantine under police supervision is being considered. 

Americans Face 7-10 Day Quarantine

U.S. travelers returning home will now face a 7-10 day quarantine. Details on the exact number of days have not been confirmed but Biden's presidential proclamation did state that the quarantine will follow CDC recommended guidelines.  

With the new quarantines, the only travelers able to make the trip south will be those on extended vacations or long term travelers. 

woman leaving airport in mask

Record Cases In the Mexico, Canada and The United States

All three countries have seen record daily case numbers of Covid-19 in January. The debate of traveling during the last month have been heated on social media. Many have supported the new restrictions to help keep case numbers down while others are furious over loss of personal freedom. 

In Mexico, tourism operators and those that depend on tourism for their livelihoods could be in for one of the hardest periods of the pandemic yet. 

Mexico Beach in Tulum

↓ Join the community ↓

The Travel Off Path Community FB group has all the latest reopening news, conversations, and Q&A's happening daily! 

Subscribe to our Latest Posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to Travel Off Path's latest breaking travel news, straight to your inbox

Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


Wednesday 27th of January 2021

This doesn't really matter to me.

I just got back from Mexico and will soon be going back. I don't mind getting tested and a 7-10 day quarantine? They can't enforce that and I work from home anyway.

As anyone who has been to Mexico knows, the Mexicans are doing everything they can to fight the pandemic. I feel safer there than in the US.


Tuesday 26th of January 2021

Unconstitutional. Unenforceable. Will not comply.

L. Albert

Tuesday 26th of January 2021

What happened to caring about your fellow man? Quarantine to protect others. Love thy neighbor as thy self.

Mark Torguson

Monday 25th of January 2021

Just when you think this cant get any stupider, of course it does. But you can still walk across the border, which over a 100K do everyday? Why is there more risk relaxing on a beach in Cancun then there is going to Wal-Mart?

S Leach

Monday 25th of January 2021

In Cabo now , got negative covid tests today. They were free. Going home Thursday. No requirement to quarantine. Unenforceable. Wife is cleared by employer already to return to work anyway, I'm retired. This article is scare tactics and doom and gloom. BS.