Cancun Turns 38 and Exceeds All Expectations

On April 20th, Cancun will turn only 38 years since established, but is currently the most important tourist destination in Mexico and one of the most important in the world.

It is a successful reality that no one would have ever imagined when the island of Cancun – Kaank’uun in the Mayan language – was inhabited by a small group of Mayan fisherman.  Then, no one dreamed that in a little more  than three decades it would offer international tourism 146 hotels with over 28,000 rooms of which 75 percent are   ranked as 5 star or superior– the highest percentage in Latin America-, as well as approximately 453 restaurants, 12 shopping centers and 13 golf courses.

Cancun’s story begins in 1968 when Bank of Mexico was looking for new ways to bring foreign currency into the country. It commissioned a group of economists to explore 11.000 miles of the nation’s coasts to find the most attractive location in which to develop tourism, based on climate, water temperature and beautiful scenery.

The data was fed to a computer that reached a historical milestone by becoming the first processor in the world to pinpoint where to develop a tourist center.  The analyzed data was categorical: it picked Cancun as one of those special places.  What the computer could not predict was the amount of benefits that the project would bring to the country.

During the 70s, there was hardly any international tourism in Mexico. With Cancun came freeways, airports, ports and the entire country’s tourist attractions moved to the next level.  International investors and tour operators set their sights on the new territory and transformed it into the phenomenon that it is today:  the favorite destination of over three million national and international tourists each year.

Each year, Cancun brings a considerable amount of foreign currency into the country -3.073 billion dollars in 2007, almost double the 1.818 billion dollars from the previous year-; it is a direct or indirect source of employment for approximately 800,000 people; it has the second largest airport in Mexico with 54,729 annual flights, and it has become one of the hubs with the highest number of direct international flights in Latin America.

Built on this visionary past, on its 38th anniversary Cancun aims to continue elevating the quality and diversity of its tourist attractions, by adding sports, ecological and adventure attractions to its white sand beaches, archaeological attractions and renown, 15-mile boulevard.

The upcoming anniversary of Cancun, a “deeply unique” destination, will mark a step forward in 38 years of excellence in quality tourism, as well as its significant contributions to Mexico’s economic development.

Cruise Industry News Email Alerts

Cruise Industry News Email Alerts



Get the latest breaking cruise newsSign up.


62 Ships | 142,732 Berths | $46.7 Billion | View

New 2024 Drydock REPORT


  • Mkt. Overview
  • Record Year
  • Refit Schedule
  • 120 Pages
  • PDF Download
  • Order Today
New 2024 Annual Report


  • 2033 Industry Outlook 
  • All Operators
  • Easy to Use
  • Instant Access
  • Order Today