Cancun, Cozumel and Tulum Have A New Tourist Tax That’s Not Included In Your Ticket

Starting April 1 all international visitors over age 15 to the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Cozumel and Tulum, will have to pay a new tourism tax of 224 pesos (US$10.81). Visitors from Belize get a 10% discount.

The tax is enforced upon departure. It isn’t included when you buy your airline tickets, making it an extra hassle apart from the cost. The tax can be paid online by credit card at a new Visitax website expected to launch later this month, or at the airport where cash will be an option as well.

JW Marriott Cancun, credit: Marriott

This tax, flying in the face of the maxim that when you tax something you get less of it, is ironically meant to promote tourism. Funds are – in theory – supposed to be used “to create more jobs and attractions.”

Of course if the attractions were really going to draw visitors they’d likely be self-financing and wouldn’t require a tax, so consider the likelihood that this is a popular way to grow government revenue by ostensibly placing the burden on those who can’t vote (other than with their flights and wallets, but the relative cost compared to the total trip is low).

Mexico has remained open throughout the pandemic, so U.S. tourists have flocked South. The U.S. federal government now requires a negative Covid-19 test before returning to the country, which adds a hassle and expense to the trip, and this additional $11 piles on top of that. However Mexico is confident they can tax tourists since over 1 million people per month are currently traveling to Cancun.

If you visit Cancun, and plan to stay at an all-inclusive, you may still require cash. And you can travel to a yoga retreat in Tulum, find your True North, but go easy on the smoothies because you’ll need $11 bucks in your pocket to leave.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. They have been trying to extort twice that amount from visitors to Baja Sur (Cabo) for 2 years now. Airlines and resorts refused to collect it (anti business) so they tried a request box at the airport which everyone who understands Mexico ignores.
    They already have an airline entrance tax of about $30USD/pp and a departure tax of about $50/pp as the airports are private.
    Every time a part of the Mexican government fails (Google Pemex) they tax the tourists more. Mexico used to be a bargain but room inflation has increased almost 100% in 12 years. It’s already prohibitively expensive for Canadians because of the USD/CD exchange rate. There are no MXN Pesos in tourist areas just USD. Even the Mexicans hoard USDs as a hedge against their currency failure.

    I wish we would do the same on all good imported and exported to/from Mexico to send a message.
    As a visitor for the last 15years we’ve reduced our stay/spending in proportion to their greed.
    Pretty soon they will have killed the golden goose (tourism is #1) leaving only remittances as their only source of income since Pemex failed. When that happens a wall will be useless as you can’t stop the starving from leaving.

  2. BTW Cabo resorts are currently at 40% occupancy (very low for spring break) but if you call they will say “maybe we can find you a room but we are very busy”

  3. @ paul — Have you looked at the CN/US exchange rate lately? It is running near a 6-year high…

  4. @Gene even at .80 it’s 15% more than it was 10 years ago and that is on top of “Mexican inflation” (which is less actual inflation and more because the developer needs more money)
    Our Canadian TS friends say their airfares from BC to Cabo continue to be a huge premium vs flying from Seattle- even before their travel lock down.
    Cabo used to be nearly a third to half BC Canadians now it’s much less and the Asians have not picked up the difference although that was what the big resorts claim.

  5. Ha! Someone has to pay for the new train line down the middle of the highway. 😉
    We’re considering Porto Rico for next winter 🙂

  6. Bill…PR has curfews on the beach and no alcohol in public places. Does not sound like fun

  7. So they make you go through an annoying extra step at a very busy time instead of just adding it to the price of the ticket like other government taxes.

    All that hassle just to conceal the tax from you when you’re buying your ticket.

    And we thought Marriott’s “resort” tax was bad!

  8. I LOVE departure taxes! They always provide such value and transparency about how the money is being spent.

  9. Glad you took this (nasty) subject on Gary, with candor. ty.

    Far too many travel bloggers (when selling CC’s, esp. for SW) ignore these airport fees/taxes when doing their usual OMG! posts about how cheap in points it will be to fly to the Caribbean…. (often times, like when traveling to Jamaica, MBJ, the costs in taxes will be higher than the cost of the ticket itself) Very tired of this. And that’s before all the reports (again rarely covered by travel bloggers) of the bad booze that too often sickens, or worse, travelers to the All-inclusive places in Mexico…. We used to love our trips to CUN, MBJ, AUA, etc…. Adding on more nasty taxes will incline us even less to return.

  10. Learn how to spell purto rico before you go there..maybe some “spainish” also.

  11. It is simply another strategy to pay for wasteful projects of the Government that have little to no impact on work creation.

    I agree with one of the comments here to add similar tax collections for Mexican citizens and products entering the US

    What makes these strategies even worse are the facts that such profits disappear in the hands of Government and not to for improvements on infrastructure or additional jobs!

  12. Also, keep in mind that despite the Peso’s weakening to more than 20/$, the prices for hotel rooms have continued to go up, instead of going down. The hotel owners and the Gov’t. continue to screw those who continue to travel to Mexico…

  13. Easy, easy,easy solution …by virtue of your visit, you are already making a economic contribution to the Mexican economy. Now they want to penalize all travelers 11 dollars for the privilege of going home…what bullshit! But the government there still gets to be corrupt and there is nothing anyone can do…I really feel for the hard working and honest people there in Mexico. However, if you want to make a point to disagree with this unfair taxing of visitors (and only YOU have to know) just reduce your tipping by 11 dollars!

  14. Jomel, thanks for being the internet moron of the day by acting as the spelling police when you can’t spell Puerto Rico or Spanish correctly yourself.

    “Learn how to spell purto rico before you go there..maybe some “spainish” also.”

  15. I’ve now visited my 4th city in Mexico. Taxis are $40 one way to travel 20-30 mins away. 16% tax on my food at the resorts. The food isn’t even all that good. The local food is WAY better. Charging more is not the way to get more visitors down here. It will do the exact opposite.

  16. Maybe some people from the US forget, that visitors already have to pay to enter the states as well. And ESTA fee is 2-3x higher that this new departure fee. And even worse: paying ESTA is no guarantee that someone is allowed to enter at all. This doesn’t mean that I like this new mexican tax but however it is strange to read that some people complain about it who have a similar tax for many years.

  17. Somebody who really knows about traveling in Mexico should help the rest of us to know exactly what cash we need to leave Mexico, from Cancun.
    Is $11 the tax to leave? Where do you get the Covid test and how much is that? Read about a $30 tax of some kind, I’m confused and wish I was not flying to Cancun in 3 days

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