Höhlentauchen / Cave Diving / Buceo en Cueva Riviera Maya
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Update August 2020

Update August 2020

Every year we have the hot and dry season in August – 40 days, which are regionally called Dog Days. Nevertheless, there are still occasional rainy days, like this week, so that the jungle stays green even in summer.

Conditions in the Cenotes and in the ocean are ideal, all the dive sites off Playa del Carmen are open, Cozumel has closed some reefs to allow them to recover, but this does not affect the normal operations as they have enough choices. The cenotes are open except for very few restrictions and of course we are familiar with all new opening hours and measures and keep ourselves updated.

In the various announcements of the government of Quintana Roo, figures have been and will be given on how things are developing with regard to Corona. Of course, I am also very happy to give my personal opinion on this, but here I would like to stick to the facts that are comprehensible to me.

More than 50% of the income in Quintana Roo is DIRECTLY generated by tourism. Since the beginning of the pandemic in March and the phased introduction of curfews and reduction of economic activities, many workers and former employees have returned to their villages. This has led to a reverse migration; just as in previous years, the Riviera Maya was the magnet for job seekers from all over Mexico and also many Central American countries, tourism has also attracted many international workers in the somewhat upscale sector (also diving), this magnet has lost now its power. Many economic crises, which I myself experienced in the past here in Playa del Carmen, caused by hurricanes or swine flu or international economic crises have had effects on our economy and tourism. However, as of today the crisis is not over and on the contrary an end is not yet in sight, we are now 5 months after the beginning of our New Normality. Many shops in the 5th Avenida but especially all over Playa del Carmen have closed and these entrepreneurs will not reopen. If you drive through the city, you will see rolled down shutters more often than open shops – an estimated 70% of small shops. In my residential area, many formerly rented houses are vacant and it is to be expected that the rents have to be permanently reduced so that the few tenants can afford to stay here with the lower incomes. This is not yet visible in the high-priced segment, as this segment naturally has more capital and can endure a long period of drought. As soon as tourism starts up again, everything will slowly return to the level of before, but the time frame is crucial and it will be recovering very slow.

The government of Quintana Roo is very keen to maintain the supply of food to the population, but the poor are getting even poorer, and the wealthy and expats who receive their pension income continue to live normal lives, as do our holidaymakers, whose financial losses were mostly short-term and who were able to recover relatively quickly from the restrictions imposed by their respective governments. The divide between rich and poor will spread over a larger section of the population and large parts of the middle class will also be affected.

In terms of diving tourism, this means that diving schools had temporarily closed down and waited to see how the situation would develop; but since economic activity is slowly and in a coordinated manner starting up again, it is becoming apparent that many diving schools do not have the financial background to operate with an extremely reduced income over the next months (perhaps beyond 2021). Closures are already happening and we will continue to be affected. Freelance instructors (like me) are not so much affected because we have less fixed costs, but still 6 months without income is of course not feasible for me without financial help from outside.

I can’t speak for the general public, but I didn’t receive any financial support from the Mexican state or the German state, but as I said, advance payments from customers by purchasing vouchers and also donations, both from customers, friends and my family. Thanks to my clients, friends and family I will ride out this time. Instructors who have only worked here for a short time and who are not really rooted here have left and many will certainly not come back. Even if they have survived economically the past months, it will be difficult to have a steady and sufficient source of income for the coming months.

Important for future trips to Quintana Roo and for the traveller is the following information: all shops that are open are required to follow certain hygienic standards, measure temperature, disinfection basins for shoes, disinfectant gel for hands, facemasks for employees and customers that enter the shop, distance regulations. Every tourist who travels here and because of the bad economic situation demands a discount, according to the argumentation, if you don’t give it to me, I will go to the next one who is happy to make some money. Every one of these tourists contributes to the fact that exactly these standards are being diluted and neglected, because they cost additional money and effort and if this is not rewarded by the customer, it is unfortunately in the nature of mankind to not apply these standards anymore. The authorities can and will only control in a few cases, the control lies with each individual.

I do not really want to talk about infection figures, these can be obtained elsewhere, but I would like to summarise the trend and development here. I personally informed myself on the spot which hospital in Playa del Carmen is able to provide the best possible medical care for my clients in case of illness (and not only for Covid-19) and of course integrated this into my emergency plans. For the population in general, the capacity in the general hospitals has been increased and the continuous information via social media and radio and television as well as posters and announcements in the city have led to the fact that by and large the population recognizes the problem and abides by it. Since August, the trend has shown for the first time that infection numbers are decreasing, although of course the time delays and effects of the slowly reopening tourism are not yet really apparent. We are still on the ball.

I would like to urge every holidaymaker to stick to these simple precautionary measurements: to avoid places where crowds of people congregate, to keep to distance rules at all times, not to shake hands or give kisses, to wear facemasks over mouth and nose if the distances are too small, especially frequent hand washing, avoid touching yourself in the face and, finally to clean hands with alcohol gel and objects touched by different people with disinfectant.

My advice is also to make sure that the hygiene standards are strictly adhered to when arriving at the airport, plane or transfer. The decision if someone wants to spend X hours in the plane is your personal one, but I think also the airlines have to think seriously about new approaches. The future will show us what the consumer has achieved. For the vacationer who decides to come, please have a written confirmation from your international health/ travel insurance that you are covered in case of illness (including Covid-19). For Germans, there is a travel advisory until at least 31.08. to avoid unnecessary travel to risk areas, and we will keep up to date on the extent to which this will be modified for Mexico over the months. The new legal regulation (for Germany), which makes rapid tests mandatory for returnees from risk areas and this free of charge, is a first step in the right direction, in which we must learn to live with this permanent threat to our health. I hope that other countries will follow suit.

With this in mind, I wish all of you hot summer days, whether you are on holiday on your balcony, exploring your home country or in a nearby foreign country, and I hope to be able to welcome one or two of you back here in Mexico soon. Of course I will answer your questions as always via email or whatsapp or messenger.

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