New port developments are underway in Cozumel. According to Juan Carlos Arnau, Cruise Liaison Officer of the Mexican Ministry of Tourism (Sectur) three projects are planned which will enable seven ships to dock in Cozumel simultaneously compared to two ships today. (Additional ships anchor.)

Arnau said that Puerto Maya will be the name of a new $9 million cruise ship terminal to be developed by Group H 1,320 feet south of the present Cozumel cruise ship terminal. Each dock will be 825 feet long with water depth of 26 feet. Construction will start during the first two months of 1994 and is scheduled to be completed in 10 months. according to Arnau. The new cruise terminal will be part of a $100 million development which will include a resort hotel and beach facility.

Arnau noted that the new development is not necessarily to attract more cruise ship calls to Cozumel but to "keep up with all the traffic we already have and to offer a modem port" although more cruise traffic is forecasted, Arnau admitted. He added that other port developments were planned for Mexican Caribbean ports including Playa del Carmen, Calico, Veracruz, and Progreso.

Arnau said that his goal now is to generate more traffic in the Pacific. He said that new port facilities are being considered for La Plaza and Cabo San Lucas.

High Priority

Mexico is giving cruise tourism high priority. The responsibility of cruise tourism has recently been transferred to Sectur. The government agency, Puertos Mexicanos, which is responsible for all ports, was previously also responsible for cruise tourism. While Puertos Mexicanos still operates the ports, they are being privatized. Arnau said that the government is now accepting bids from private companies to operate the present terminal in Cozumel. Arnau also said that six more ports will be privatized during 1994.

While the ports will be privatized, they will be promoted by Sectur, however, with public and private funding.

While Mexico is a member of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Arnau said that Mexico cannot go along with the agreement to raise port taxes. It will be up to the individual, private Mexican ports to set taxes, Arnau said.

According to Arnau the present head tax in Cozumel is $3.00 but is likely to go up to $6.50.

Arnau noted that the estimated spending per passenger in Cozumel is approximately $100.

Development plans have been presented to the cruise lines and further presentations are expected to be made at a cruise conference in Mexico on December 5.

Another conference was held on the Pacific side earlier this year, organized jointly with the Port of San Diego.