Ted Cruz gets slammed, but Americans are flocking to Cancun

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The beaches in Cancun, Mexico, have been crowded despite the Covid-19 epidemic .

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Even Sen. Ted Cruz admits his decision to vacation in sunny Cancun, Mexico, this week while his home state of Texas was suffering record cold and massive power outages was “obviously a mistake,” as he told reporters in Houston upon his hastily arranged return.

But it turns out his big error was when he went — not where.

While the Republican firebrand’s public relations instincts may have been off, his travel ones weren’t — at least according to Expedia Group. Cancun is, in fact, the No. 1 destination Americans are booking flights to in so far 2021, the online travel agency found in its 2021 Travel Trends Report. And the so-called Riviera Maya just south of Cancun, which includes seaside resorts Playa del Carmen and Tulum, is just behind, in second place. (The same study found that 56% of U.S. travelers want to take a beach vacation this year.)

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That’s despite a U.S. State Department Level 3 travel advisory urging Americans to “reconsider travel to Mexico due to Covid-19,” and a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for the country issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Jan. 12, the CDC announced an order requiring air passengers flying from abroad to get a Covid-19 test no more than three days before their flight to the States and to present a negative result or proof of recovery from Covid to their airline before boarding. It’s then recommended they get retested once home and quarantine for at least a week. Mexico, which has some of the world’s loosest border restrictions amid the pandemic, does not require any testing before visitors’ arrival.

Despite the hassle of testing and quarantines, tens of thousands of Americans have headed south of the border on holiday since the final weeks of 2020. The state of Quintana Roo, home to Cancun and the Riviera Maya, welcomed 961,000 visitors in that timeframe, according to the Associated Press, and nearly half were from the U.S. That’s just a 25% drop from the same pre-pandemic period a year before.

Expedia Group conducted research for the report among 2,200 Americans in December, in collaboration with data intelligence firm The Morning Consult.

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