Cruise ships dock at Puerto Progreso. Photo: Yucatan Ministry of Tourism

With a prediction that Progreso could be the next big thing in Mexico, travel agents were given the 411 on a “sleepy, authentic” port to send travelers.

Tourism is slowly climbing back from coronavirus lockdowns, depending mainly on national visitors. But when Mexico’s welcome to leisure travelers opens up more fully, travel agents and tour companies were handed an outside-the-box tip.

Urging readers not to just send customers to the big-three ports of Cozumel, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, Travel Weekly noted that “there are smaller ports in the country that bring cruisers to the lesser-known corners of Mexico’s vast and varied coastline.”

One of them is in Yucatan, where new investments and renovation aim to bring Progreso up to the big leagues, the trade magazine wrote.

Growth here has been trending for some time already. From 2015 to 2019, Puerto Progreso increased cruise ship arrivals by 30, a 47.8% growth in passengers.

The Callejon de Amor, or Alley of Love, a streetscape splashed with murals and reinvented as an art attraction opened in February. Photo: YouTube

“The coastal town of Progreso is the gateway to what is being dubbed the Riviera Yucatan, a string of coastal towns anchored by the capital city of Merida. The Riviera Yucatan has been a popular beach getaway for the domestic market, but it is growing in popularity among international guests as they flock to discover what the state has to offer,” Travel Weekly said.

“Progreso comes alive when cruise ships dock, but for the most part, the town retains a sleepy vibe, which brings with it a level of authenticity that can be lost in other port cities.”

The government of Yucatan has invested the equivalent of about US$2.37 million in the first phase of urban improvements in the tourist area, including the Callejon de Amor, of Alley of Love, a once-seedy streetscape splashed with murals and reinvented in February as an art attraction.

The malecon and adjacent streets have been improved with underground wiring and accessibility ramps.

Progreso’s malecon runs along a sandy beach. Photo: Yucatan Ministry of Tourism

For cruise passengers, Progreso is a gateway to the rest of the state, “which is packed with tourist-friendly favorites and is like a microcosm of Mexico, showcasing all the things travelers have come to love and expect from the country. From archaeological ruins to cenotes, smaller beach towns, culture-rich cities and foodie favorites, Yucatan delivers on Mexico favorites,” the article states.

“Between the cruise offerings, the history, design, culture, hotels and cuisine, it’s not difficult to see why Yucatan was chosen to host the 2020 installment of Tianguis Turistico, which has since been postponed to 2021 due to Covid-19. Come March, assuming it is safe for groups to convene, the state of Yucatan will have its moment in the spotlight and will become one of the big players in the Mexico tourism scene.”

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