The construction and operation of a new cruise ship dock in Cozumel was proposed by the company Muelles del Caribe, owned by businessman Enrique Molina, and promoted by the government of the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).
The project consists of the concession of a new cruise ship dock with an investment of 511 million pesos and is part of the 39 investment projects announced by the AMLO Administration for economic reactivation in the fall of 2020.
For President AMLO, the project becomes relevant because his government promotes the construction and expansion of ports and maritime transport, while accelerating the construction of one of its flagship works, the Mayan Train, which will allow the promotion of tourist destinations, like Cozumel.
For its part, Muelles del Caribe focuses its business on the favorable prospects for regional tourism, on the reactivation of the cruise industry and on the business opportunities in Cozumel, especially during peak demand.
Muelles del Caribe argues that although the annual average occupancy rate was 53% in 2019, it is also a fact that it is a market that is driven by tourism and is subject to high and low seasons.
If the data is disaggregated, measuring the saturation of the docks during the months considered as high season, the installed capacity is exceeded on peak days, which prevents the periodic and continuous arrival of more vessels, according to the company.
Cruise ship dock
Before the pandemic, in 2019, Mexican ports received 2,951 cruise ships which, compared to 2,671 recorded during 2018, represent an advance of 10.5%, according to figures from the Secretary of Communications and Transportation (SCT).
Among all the ports, Cozumel stood out in that year as a destination, with 1,366 arrivals (an interannual increase of 5.2%) and placed in the first position at the national level.
The pier will be located on the northwest coast of the island of Cozumel, both in the land zone, as well as in the marine zone and in the Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone (Zofemat).
The proposed structure will be L-shaped and will cover an area of 1.16 hectares that will allow the docking of vessels up to 362 meters in length.
Since the end of 2021, the construction of the dock has all the authorizations from Semarnat and Semar, including the approval of the Environmental Impact Statement (MIA), although it is conditional on certain additional compliances.
But the organization Colectivo Ciudadano Isla Cozumel obtained a provisional injunction against President AMLO to temporarily stop the construction of the work until a final ruling is given.
Among other arguments, the activists argue that there are already three piers and that corals could be affected.
On this last point, the MIA asked Muelles del Caribe, as an additional requirement, to present and develop a Coral Restoration and Conservation Program in collaboration with universities or scientific bodies or the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP). This program must meet certain other specific conditions.
Of the three terminals now operating, two are owned by US companies, one of which is Carnival Corporation.