As Tren Maya Debuts, Riviera Prepares for Record Tourism Growth

Mexico’s ambitious railway project, the Tren Maya, is set to launch with great fanfare on December 15th, 2023, boosting tourism in the picturesque Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Eventually connecting destinations such as Cancun, Merida and Tulum, this railway system has garnered world-wide attention and is sparking local excitement for regional convenience and growth.
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Tourism Expected to break records in Riviera Maya

From January to October 2023, Mexico’s international air travel tourism experienced a significant increase, with almost 18 million (17.7M) foreign visitors landing in the country so far this year. This marks a 6.2% growth compared to the same timeframe in 2022, and also indicates a 13.8% increase when compared to the same figures from January to October 2019, before the pandemic.

Cancun, in particular is has just passed 27 million air passengers (including domestic travelers) at Cancun International Airport (CUN), through October this year with more than half of them coming from international locations.

This is expected to surpass 2022’s already record-setting tourism figure of 30M passengers. Only 25M had been served at this point in the year in 2022 so Far Homes can project that Cancun’s airport will serve 32.1 passengers in 2023, breaking records yet again.

Transportation Upgrades will Help Tulum Double Tourism by 2033

Earlier this year Far Homes conducted a deep dive on the Tulum real estate market. In the report, we conclude that the Tren Maya and new airport will increase Tulum’s annual visitor total to 4.3M per year over the next 10 years, more than double 2024’s projected number of 2.1M visitors.

These significant infrastructure developments are also expected to have a sizable positive impact on property values in the surrounding areas with the increase in tourism numbers and local mobility mentioned in the short term rental report. Expected monthly revenue for booked listings is expected to more than double as well in this time period.
 
 

The stage is set for a remarkable surge in real estate demand, making up and coming cities like Tulum an enticing investment opportunity for both domestic and international buyers.

32% of expats cited poor infrastructure as a negative about living in Mexico

In December of 2023 we surveyed expats in Mexico, asking them all kinds of questions about their new lives. We asked what they disliked about living in Mexico and while most folks had many more positive things to say than negative, the most common pain point was poor transportation and infrastructure. 32% of expats said they were frustrated by poor transportation and other infrastructure shortcomings in Mexico.
 


The Tren Maya is one example of a project that should start to help alleviate some of this pain, at least on the Yucatan Peninsula. 

In addition to the Tren Maya, another major upgrade is coming to the region in the form of a new airport in Tulum. Americans, Canadians and other foreigners will be able to fly directly to Tulum, beginning in March of 2024, saving time and money for renters and vacationers to a growing city. Limited domestic flights began December 1st of 2023.

Visit Mexico’s Project Hub for more information on other infrastructure projects coming all across the country.

Here’s a recent press conference (in Spanish) where President Obrador discuses the Tren Maya’s opening:

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Tren Maya FAQs

What is the Tren Maya?

The Tren Maya,  is a 1,525-kilometer (950 mile) intercity railway project in Mexico. It aims to connect tourist destinations in the Yucatán Peninsula (including Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum) and to promote overall economic development in the region.

When did construction on the Tren Maya begin?

The Tren Maya was announced by President Obrador in September of 2018 and construction on started in June 2020.

When is the Tren Maya scheduled to be completed?

The Tren Maya  is scheduled to be completed by December 1, 2023. Test runs for the train will begin in September 2023.

What are the main routes of the Tren Maya?

The railway starts in Palenque, Chiapas, and travels northeast towards Cancún, Quintana Roo, via two routes that encircle the Yucatán Peninsula.

 

All stops and stations on the Tren Maya

How much will it cost to build the Tren Maya?

Initially estimated to cost 150 billion pesos ($7.4B USD), the project’s construction estimate was later revised to 200 billion pesos. The total cost, including 30 years of operating and maintenance but excluding electrification, was estimated to be about 321 billion pesos ($18.5B USD).

How was the Mayan Train project funded?

Funding for the project primarily comes from a tourism tax levied in the region and funds diverted from other programs. The Mexican Grand Prix also contributes to the funding.

What were the results of the December 2019 referendum to approve the Mayan Train?

In the referendum, 92.3% of the participants voted in favor of the Mayan Train project, while 7.4% voted against it. The voter turnout was 2.36% of registered voters in the affected municipalities.

What are some concerns raised by critics of the Tren Maya project?

Critics have raised concerns about the project’s impact on the environment, particularly the construction of new tracks through the jungle. Indigenous rights activists have also expressed opposition to the project. The government of Mexico has argued that the reduction in highway traffic, in favor of the more environmentally friendly mass-transit train, will have a positive impact on the environment overall.

Which companies are involved in the construction of the Tren Maya?

Several developement companies are involved in different stretches of the project, including Mota-Engil México, China Communications Construction Company, Operadora CICSA, FCC Construcción, Construcciones Urales, GAMI Ingeniería e Instalaciones, and Grupo ICA.

 

Sources:
  1. https://trenmaya.gob.mx/en/ 
  2. https://www.eesi.org/briefings/view/the-impact-of-public-transportation-on-real-estate-values 
  3. https://www.jstor.org/stable/43096216 
  4. https://medium.com/age-of-awareness/mapping-the-20-billion-railway-in-the-jungle-using-felt-66ce2da56af3 
  5. https://www.homelight.com/blog/public-transportation-property-values/ 
  6. https://www.struttandparker.com/knowledge-and-research/how-new-transport-infrastructure-affects-property-prices-and-saleability 
  7. https://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/home-front/2013/03/22/study-proximity-to-public-transit-boosts-home-values/ 
  8. https://www.redfin.com/news/how-much-is-one-point-of-transit-score-worth/ 
  9. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/21/tren-maya-suspension-fuels-indigenous-community-rift 
  10. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/12/17/mexicos-president-says-mayan-train-project-to-move-forward
 

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