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Local Island NEWS in English - Updated Weekly
News for the Week of December 22, 2014

Beginning in December 2002, Insider was proudly the first website to provide readers the Cozumel News in English.

Articles are slected from local newspapers which we feel will be of interest to our diverse audience. These articles are then translated into English. We cannot always investigate the veracity of a particular article but offer these translations as a reflection of the Cozumel community news just as reporters write it for Por Esto, Diario de Quintana Roo, Novedades and El Seminario and many other sources.

We appreciate hearing from our readers and welcome your questions, suggestions and comments. Please send them to:

Note: All translated articles are the property of Cozumel Insider and cannot be used, displayed or reproduced without express written permission from Cozumel Insider.

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Cozumel Arrivals: 33 Ships this Week
12/14 - Numbers remain high this week in Cozumel as cruise ship arrivals rise to 33 ships registered to dock for the fourth full week of December 2014. This is 5 more than the number of ships last week and 13 more than the "20 in port" which marks a "high season" beginning meaning HIGH SEASON is in full swing now on the island! With Christmas Day this Thursday an estimated 99,000 people will visit Cozumel this week via these cruise ships leaving an estimated US$ 7.9 million dollars behind in the local economy.

High season for cruise ship arrivals typically runs from November 15 - April 15 each year with the remaining 7 months of the year considered "low season." However it seems this year, Cozumel is enjoying a much welcome early beginning to high season!

This week all piers will be equal economic winners as 11 ships dock at Puerta Maya, 11 will dock at TMM/SSA International pier while Punta Langosta pier will see 11 arrivals and the downtown San Miguel pier will have -0- ship arrivals.

This week begins with 6 ships docking on Monday, 6 on Tuesday, 7 ships Wednesday, 6 on Thursday, 4 on Friday and then Saturday will bring 3 ships in port and Sunday will see 1 ship in port.

View the Cruise Ship Calendar for this Week
Mexican Diver Sets New Record
The Mexican diver Alejandro Lemus set a new national record by staying submerged six minutes eight seconds in a hotel pool in the South of Cozumel. According to Notimex, the hotel is located just in front of the Mesoamerican barrier reef which is the second largest coral reef system in the world and a place considered around the world as a paradise for diving.

In a press conference, Lemus commented on his frustration for not be able to match or better the Pan American mark of 6 minutes 58 seconds. The diver stated: “I prepared to remain submerged for more than eight minutes.” The athlete had complied with all the safety protocols of the sport.
Cozumel Cenotes Another Attraction for Divers
Areas of the Riviera Maya in the State of Quintana Roo, in the South of Mexico, are considered the Mecca of the world of cave diving. Three of the longest underground rivers of the world are located in this area. Cozumel is only 18 kilometers from this point and few people know that it has an intricate network of underground rivers and caves, submerged beneath its surface.

In the opinion of Christopher González Baca, Director of the office of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (Conanp) in Cozumel, this is a tourist market that Cozumel could exploit. "It's a different market, a tourism alternative and a market that still remains untapped in Cozumel."

One of the examples of biodiversity is the cenote of el Aerolito. This body of water was discovered very recently by specialists of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). In it was discovered a Starfish completely unknown to science. Germán Yáñez commented that “El Aerolito” is a special place. It is the jewel in the Crown of Cozumel in cave diving, said the director of Conanp, who believes that Germán Yáñez is best known on the island as a specialized diver in this matter. “Almost every day somewhere in Cozumel there are cenotes visited by divers who carry out research work or just love this activity” stated Yáñez.

Alongside him are Luis Mejía, Adrián Cervantes and Oscar Fraustro who are researchers from the University of Quintana Roo that have studied the quality of the water and the wildlife that inhabit cenotes. Fraustro is developing a map of these cenote locations which are scattered throughout the island.

This is an alternative type of tourism that does not depend on the weather or if the port is open for boat navigation or not. They are unique sites irrespective of the seasonal tourist and can be visited throughout the year, with rules and regulations that protect them.
"Punta Sur" Ecological Park a Growing Attraction
From January to November 2014, the ecotourism park “Punta Sur”, one of the greatest natural attractions of the island of the swallows, reported a 17% increase in the entrance of visitors in relation to the same period in 2013. Jorge Alberto Martín Azueta, director of the parks and museums of Cozumel Quintana Roo (FPMC) Foundation, said that this has been a good year for tourist statistics according to representatives who manages this agency of the State Government.

The official said that up to November 30, 2014, Punta Sur welcomed 93,556 entries. In the same period of time in 2013, the statistics showed 79,997 visitors. He attributed the good results to the FPMC strategies and the coordination with agencies and tour operators.
Merchants Show Dissatisfaction in Park Renovation
Employees and merchants in the downtown area of Cozumel claim to be affected by the process of remodeling of the Park "Benito Juárez". They feel that they have lost already and will continue to lose substantial revenue as the the full high season of cruise ships and hotel visitors arrive to see a downtown park still very much under construction.

They noted that while the Boardwalk records a large presence of tourists during the week, those who are located on Fifth Avenue and adjacent streets have no sales. Few tourists are coming to handicraft shops on Fifth Avenue, between Calle Adolfo Rosado Salas and 2 North.

Municipal President, Fredy Marrufo Martín stated: "This is not superficial work. It is thorough and work must be done in a coordinated manner with multiple companies like Telefonos de Mexico, Federal Commission of electricity and the drinking water and sewer Commission" He asked those who are anxious for this to be over to have a little patience since the redevelopment of the Park and adjacent streets will translate into higher profits and the impact will lead to benefits in the near future.

Renovation is still in process which started in September with an investment of MN$ 95 million pesos from the Federal government just to redevelop the downtown plaza area.

The entire downtown area was renovated in 2005 costing merchants millions in revenue that year. That particular renovation left the traditional downtown plaza area untouched with the gazebo near the center and its big, wide sitting walls and big round cement spheres in the corners completely in tact. This traditional park design was the anchor piece of the much larger design of the city boardwalk along the sea (malecon). The sea wall has wide sidewalks with sitting benches and spheres carried the entire length of Melgar ~ over 12 kilometers.
Mayans Officially Welcome Winter
The arrival of the winter is one of the most significant dates in the Mayan community in the Riviera Maya. This season marks the change of cycle on the Winter Solstice. On Sunday December 21st, representatives of that ethnic group gathered to perform a ritual centered on their customs. According to Hermelindo Be Cituk, representative for indigenous cultures within the Directorate of Culture, due to the proximity of Christmas, it was not possible to organize a public ritual as in the past so they held private ceremonies welcoming winter.

He added that the event took place at the headquarters of the Philosophical Study Mayan Center “Hambaj Ka'an” where Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta held a ritual for the new season. The Mayan priest, Luis Nah performed the ceremony. Similar to past years when these rituals were performed, they discussed the importance of the date and in addition, they asked for peace and harmony in the community and across the country.
Special Campaign Launched to Remove Plastics from Reefs
The leadership program in the Mesoamerican barrier reef system (SAM leadership) launched a campaign called "Working together for a reef without plastics", which aims to generate resources to promote coral reef conservation projects focused on not generate plastic waste and to avoid continued pollution of this ecosystem.

María Eugenia Arreola, Director of Liderazgo SAM, reported that the intention is to acquire US$ 5000. The campaign began on December 9 and ends on 8 January, the money will be used for the 2014 program generation. Since 2010, SAM has injected resources to projects for the protection of the Mesoamerican Reef in Mexico (Quintana Roo), Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. To date, SAM has made more than 40 strategies for the preservation of the Caribbean Sea.

Generation 2014 already has registered projects in leadership, said Arreola, all focused to prevent plastic from contaminating the reefs. She states: "Platforms are being developed as in Cozumel, which will teach young students how to handle the waste produced. A girl named Tahiti is teaching high school students how to re-use waste materials washed up onto the island of Volvox and transform them into art and local crafts”.
Cozumel and the Riviera Maya Popular for Cultural and Sporting Events
It has become a known fact that Cozumel and the Riviera Maya have become a location for scenarios and forums to visitors interested in sports and cultural shows. Although there are events that already have a long history such as the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival celebrating 13 years of bringing music to the area. In the last years, the area welcomed the Caribbean Culture Festival (Fecuca) and the Mayan Riviera Film Festival - both with three editions-as well as the triathlon of Xel-Ha, a marathon in Tres Rios and the marathon in the Riviera Maya or the Mayatlon. All of these events have made tourism look at this area in a different perspective.

Cozumel has made an impact with several editions of “Ironman”, “Met Life Half Ironman”, “Iron Kids” and the GFNY (Grand Fondo New York) Bicycle race among other sporting events. Cozumel is also hoping to host the “World Cup Triathlon” in 2015.
Avoid Credit Card Cloning While Vacationing
The Director of the National Commission for the protection and defense of users of Servicios Financieros (Condusef) in Quintana Roo, Juan Bosco García Galán, urges travelers to not loose sight of your Credit cards when making purchase or transactions. This will help to avoid being a victim of cloning this holiday season and all year round.

The official reported approximately 30,000 complaints registered so far in 2014. 80% referred to unrecognized charges on credit cards; Banamex, Bancomer and Santander are the most reported banking institutions.

According to unofficial reports, it is estimated that in Playa del Carmen 60% of the cases reported on charges not recognized on bank cards originate from points of sales located at gas stations.

Within the annual file of 2013, the then Director of the Condusef in Quintana Roo and now financial adviser, Rafael del Moral González, announced that there was a trend of 15 claims monthly of cloned credit cards mostly in Playa Del Carmen. During holiday periods, the incidence of such fraud took a trend upwards.
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October 10, 2014 (Most Recent) Comprehensive Mexico Travel Warning
Because we are continually asked about travel safety in Mexico and Cozumel, INSIDER always maintains the most recent, complete version of the U.S. State Department Mexico Travel Warning HERE on our website for traveler convenience.

The good news continues to be that there are currently no regional security warnings in place that cover Quintana Roo, Cancun, Cozumel or Costa Maya so make vacation plans now to get here for some fun in the sun!

The Mexico Travel Warning dated August 13, 2014 from the Department of State can also be viewed in its entirety on the Department of State website.

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