The pandemic hit the world pretty hard. Shutdowns, lockdowns, restrictions, and protocols were the new catchphrases of our time. Around the world businesses were shuttered, schools and churches were closed, and airlines were grounded. Even here in paradise, the growth of the Riviera Maya stood still.
Many governments imposed travel restrictions, both on their citizens and for foreign arrivals. As this virus became better understood, and new health and safety protocols were instituted, some countries relaxed their limitations. Many people began to travel again, and tourism, especially here in the Riviera Maya, began a rebuilding program to return to its pre-pandemic success.
The introduction of “pandemic pricing” and the increased vacancies created a perfect scenario for sun-starved travelers. Many of those who were already here extended their stays, opting for sun, surf, and sand and a peaceful existence in a world gone seemingly mad.
Many expats, despite their country’s restrictions and lockdowns, fled to the Riviera Maya, with hopes of becoming “Mexified”. Short-term rentals became long-term, month-to-month rental requests were met with disdain, and property owners were rejoicing in the return of rental normalcy.
From Costa Mujeres down to Costa Maya, the growth of the Riviera Maya is seemingly unstoppable. The landscapes of Cancun and Playa del Carmen are dotted with new condo buildings, from small boutique-style of a dozen units to full scale highrises. Tulum is on the rise as well, with billboards offering pre-sales of luxury lifestyles.
Other incentives offered by some developers are higher pre-sale discounts, reduced notary fees, and even full payment of closing costs. Lower interest rates and better financing terms are another option, while others still are offering fully-furnished units to prospective buyers. Several of the more creative type were including motorized scooters with every purchase. Very few tenant-owned condos are up for resale, and the demand for new properties is returning to pre-pandemic levels.
In 2018, the Mexican government presented an aggressive and extensive plan to construct a 1500 kilometre-long railroad around the Yucatan peninsula. This Maya Train, or Tran Maya as it is called in Spanish, will consist of three trunks, connecting the archaeological zones with each other.
The Caribbean Route will connect Cancun to Chetumal, with stops in Puerto Morales, Playa del Carmen, Tulu, and Bacalar.
From Chetumal, the Jungle Route will head inland through to southern Campeche State with a stop at the Calakmul ruins.
The Gulf Route runs from Cancun along the 180D highway through Neuva Xcan to Valladolid and Chichen Itza, then continuing to Merida. From there it runs south again to Campeche and meets up with the Jungle Route.
This Tran Maya is expected to carry an estimated 8,000 passengers per day, linking the beaches to the history and culture found inland in towns, cities, and, in particular, the ruins that dot the landscape of the jungle.
The proposed budget is almost USD 8 billion, with completion expected in four years. This project has anticipated the creation of eighty thousand jobs, and the boost to the economy of all these regions will be spectacular.
As with every discussion about economic growth, the critics are concerned about the damage done to the ecosystems, especially through the jungle amid the mangroves and swamps.
Construction is well under way, and funding is very healthy. The increase in opportunities suggests more and more people will move to the Riviera Maya, in hopes of jumping on this bandwagon.
Life expectancy is on the rise in most of the world, attributable to healthier lifestyles, increased physical activity, and a more balanced work-home relationship. These lifestyle characteristics are easily recognized on the streets of The Riviera Maya. Yoga and mental health activities are available on almost every beach, gyms are full on a daily basis, and joggers have become the unofficial leader in street obstacles.
The attraction of a digital nomad lifestyle has brought a new generation of visitors to this area. Armed with a laptop, a cell phone, and an internet wi-fi signal, this new genre of traveller can be found on every beach, every cafe, and every rooftop!
With this global pandemic creating many virtual jobs, the opportunities to make a living from your laptop are vast and seemingly endless. From influencers to bloggers to website developers and freelance writers, these digital nomads are virtually becoming the new face of travel.
The introduction of shared workspaces has also increased the number of digital nomads here in The Riviera Maya. From a simple desk in a large room, to more elaborate work spaces which include food and lodging, this lifestyle is attracting men and women of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures.
All these factors share in the growth of the Riviera Maya. Yet all these lifestyles, these new genres, and the opportunities may come and go, and evolve into something else. But one thing will not change. There are also the retirees. The people who worked hard their entire lives and now want to live the remainder of their years in their piece of paradise.
Whether they are called expats, foreigners, travelers, or yes, even immigrants, those who now call the Riviera Maya “home” are a community, sharing thoughts, ideas, perspectives and opportunities. This is a place where all paths of life meet, embrace, and live. We all share a common thread…we are bound together because we live in a paradise known as the Riviera Maya.
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Main image by Viktor from PixaBay.