Cruise passengers visiting the top two cruise ports of call in Mexico, Cozumel and Costa Maya, may need to begin paying extra taxes in January 2025.
The Mexican state of Quintana Roo, home to both ports, has proposed a $5 (USD) per person tax for all cruise ship passengers, with the funds earmarked for tourism infrastructure projects and natural disaster recovery.
The new tax, to be assessed at $5 per person and collected by cruise lines to be delivered to the state of Quintana Roo, is part of the 2024 Fiscal Package, which would take effect from January 1, 2025.
The fee would be paid at the time a cruise reservation is made, as is similar with many “port fees and taxes” assessed on cruise bookings. Depending on a ship’s itinerary, cruise length, and exact ports of call, these fees and taxes can add up to $100-200 or more per person.
The money collected – which could be $20-25 million dollars annually as cruise traffic continues to grow in the region – would be divided.
Approximately 30% of the funds would be directed to the Trust for the Attention of Natural Disasters, which would help mitigate damage from hurricanes, flooding, and other natural events. This could include emergency recovery projects and repairs, as well as funds to citizens and residents impacted by such disasters.
The remaining 70% would become part of a Trust for Tourism Infrastructure. While the exact use of that trust has yet to be defined, it would likely include projects such as port maintenance and improvements, roadwork, beach revitalization, historic site restoration, and other efforts to protect and improve regional tourism without diminishing visitors’ experiences.
While the new tax has not yet been approved, it is a similar fee to many taxes imposed on cruise travelers in different destinations, such as a new tax proposed on cruise visits to Scotland, recent tax hikes on travelers to the Bahamas, and other port fees and taxes.
One detail that has not been clarified is whether or not cruise guests visiting both Costa Maya and Cozumel on the same cruise – both ports in Quintana Roo – would be assessed the fee twice, once for each port, or whether one fee would be imposed per guest, per sailing.
While the number of cruise ship visits to Quintana Roo has slightly reduced from 2022 to 2023, from 1,576 in 2022 to just 1,164 in 2023 (in the period between January 1 and October 8 of each respective year), the actual number of cruise passengers has increased from 4.1 million to 4.3 million.
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This is due to larger cruise ships with greater capacities, bringing more guests at one time to enjoy these vibrant ports of call. With even more ships now homeporting from Galveston, Texas – an easy cruise to Mexico – it is expected that cruise visits will continue to grow.
Both Cozumel and Costa Maya are also popular ports of call for cruise departures from Mobile, Alabama; New Orleans, Louisiana; and multiple Florida homeports, including Tampa, Miami, and Port Canaveral.
All major cruise lines – Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, MSC Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Virgin Voyages, and more – visit both ports of call. The proposed taxes would be applied to all cruise ship visitors, regardless of cruise line, visit date, or length of stay.
It should be noted that, at this time, the proposed fee is limited to ports in Quintana Roo. No other Mexican states have yet proposed similar fees, and so cruise travelers to Cabo San Lucas or other Mexican Riviera ports of call would not have the fee assessed.
If this fee proves successful, however, it is possible that additional states may impose similar taxes as a convenient source of revenue as tourism continues to grow.
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