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Local Island NEWS in English - Updated Weekly
News for the Week of February 8, 2016

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.

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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: 27 Ships this Week
01/31 - Numbers stay high this week in Cozumel as cruise ship arrivals show 26 ships registered to dock for the initial week of February 2016. This is 2 less than the number of ships last week and 6 more than the "20 in port" which marks a "high season" number. As the high season remains in full force, an estimated 81,000 people will visit Cozumel this week via these cruise ships leaving an estimated US$ 6.5 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."

This week Puerta Maya pier will be host to 14 ships docking there, 6 ships will also dock at TMM/SSA International pier while Punta Langosta pier will see 7 arrivals and the downtown San Miguel pier will have -0- arrivals with passengers tendering in.

This week begins with 5 ships docking on Monday, 5 on Tuesday, 1 ships Wednesday, 5 on Thursday, 7 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
Cozumel Carnaval 2016 Events Are Underway!
Carnaval 2016 - Be Here!
Cozumel Carnaval 2016 is OFFICIALLY underway this week!!

February 3 - 10, 2016

This past week kicked off Cozumel Carnaval 2016, coronation of the Royal Court of Carnaval Kings & Queens in all categories: Adults, Teens, Kids and Sexual Diversity as well as the crowning of this year's Emperors. Various dance and costume contests were held all weekend as well as the Cozumel Color Race and an excellent concert featuring BELINDA. Saturday night's parade was a bit chilly but thousands turned out for it as well as the Sunday night parade. This week, don't miss the Monday night tropical dance featuring YURI in concert as well as the BIGGEST parade Tuesday which will completely shut down the beachfront street (Melgar) for hours as thousands of islanders and visitors come out to enjoy the festivities. Be sure and be one of them!! .

Check out the 2016 Carnaval Calander of Events ~ for an idea of all the fun things going on!

Casinos in the Riviera Maya, Yes or No
There are opposing views regarding Casinos in major tourist destinations in Quintana Roo. However, the Association of Licensees and Suppliers of the Entertainment Industry and Betting Games (AIEJA), announced that Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Los Cabos and Huatulco are the most favorable places to open casinos according to the President of the Agency, Miguel Angel Ochoa.

This past January 18th ,2016, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) voted against the constitutional controversy promoted by the Chamber of Deputies, and endorsed the use of slot machines in casinos, considering that they are as legal as card games. He said that these four destinations in Mexico are the most favorable for the opening of casinos because of the climate and obviously are poles of economic growth due to tourism, especially tourists from abroad, and specifically Americans.

"Mexico is a country of development, investment, economic and physical conditions for foreign investment. We are only waiting for a legal framework that gives us certainty and that allows us to operate within the economy with absolute certainty for investors", stated the official. The approval of a new General Law of games and sweepstakes is necessary since the existing regulations date back from 1947 and do not consider technological advances in the industry, which would be legal and economically certain to attract more resources.

Commenting on this topic, Abelardo Vara, owner and operator of the Omni Hotel, Cancun Bay, and the Courtyard Marriott, asserted that "casinos are a danger for Quintana Roo. They are unnecessary and they only pollute the area and could bring a number of problems that we already know and do not want to enumerate". The two-time President of the Cancun Hotels Association, and current Director of the Guild, emphasized that Cancun and the Riviera Maya do not need casinos and he stated: “Casinos are a danger for hotels and this is something that we don't need. This would be a big mistake." The danger he explained is pollution for the city and for residents who would spend money on this kind of activity. We are definitely not a destination for this type of entertainment, people who come here does not come for that. Casinos will not increase the occupation and this is something extremely dangerous, we know everything that casinos could bring. “There is nothing positive that comes with casinos “according to the official. He recommends that they go to other sites where casinos are needed such as the Sonoran Desert, for example.
International 'Oceanman' Event Comes to Cozumel
The official website of the International "Oceanman" open water swimming competition, announced the possible appointment to make Cozumel Island one of the headquarters of this sport circuit. According to a bulletin, the Director of Sports and Youth on the island, Erick Villanueva Lanz, said that there has already has been an agreement with the organizers of the event. He mentioned that there is a strong possibility that the Oceanman event could take place on the main Boardwalk in Cozumel, however, this does not rule out the possibility to have other attractions take place in other areas such as Chankanaab Park.

Villanueva Lanz, explained that the competition "Oceanman", has become one of the favorite events of open water swimming and its circuit includes competitions in European cities like Orta, Italy and Palamós, Spain with final event in the series taking place in Benidorm, Spain. A new event would be added in Cozumel. This swimming competition has competitive categories of 10 kilometers, 5.5 kilometers and a popular category of 1.5 kilometers.

Cozumel could become the only continent-wide based location of this sporting event that only takes place in European countries and which draws more than 500 swimmers from around the world. The official website of the "Oceanman" brand states that the series would start May 22nd in Palamós, Spain, continuing in Orta, Italy on June 25th, to follow with Cozumel on August 21st and culminate with the grand final on October 16th in Benidorm, Spain.
Canadian Dollar Not Favorable for Tourism
The devaluation of several currencies against the U.S. dollar is not favorable for hotels in this destination. It has been pointed out that because of this situation some tourists who have to change their type of currency to United States dollars are refraining from travelling to destinations such as Cozumel.

This is the case for Canadians, who when traveling to destinations such as Cozumel, are forced to change its currency to the US dollar. Few shops and locations accept Canadian currency. For this reason they have to buy US dollars to avoid problems in paying for services. Isela Valenzuela Jiménez, Manager of the Hotel Association of Cozumel explained that the Canadian dollar has less value than the American dollar right now and this creates financial problems to the inhabitants of that country. She stated that to buy $1 U.S. dollar, Canadians have to pay $1.40 Canadian dollars, so travel is proving to be more expensive and therefore some prefer to not travel at all.

One of the consequences of this devaluation is reflected in hotels in this destination. Since January of this year hotel occupancy closed 72 percent, lower than the 76 percent registered in the same month of 2015. The demand for rooms in January 2016 was less than it was in the same month of 2015, Isela Valenzuela attributes this to the the devaluation of several currencies against the United States Dollar.

The current exchange rate of the US dollar is currently a little more than 18 pesos and the Canadian dollar is around 13 pesos, although it is important to reiterate that in some shops in destinations such as Cozumel, the Canadian dollar is not accepted and few exchange houses accept this currency.
Hotel Occupancy Favorable for Carnaval
Most Cozumel hotels are recording between 80 and 100 percent occupancy at this time according to the Hotel Association of Cozumel (AHC). Other small independent hosting centers reached high numbers in room rentals during the past weekend.

According to information issued from the Management of the Hotel Association, Friday, January 29th close with 77.36 percent, while Saturday and Sunday in the same period closed with 81.54, and 78.48 percent allowing the end of January to reach a cumulative of 72.50 points. In comparison with the same period last year, it recorded a decline of about six points because the cumulative of 2014 was 78.47 points. The February 2015 numbers were maintained above 70 points, which could allow that the accumulated current month is favorable, although it could have a decline for the second half.

Because the celebration of the Carnival festivities, Hotels hold high expectations that they can close with 100 percent occupancy through Tuesday, February 9th when they celebrate Shrove or Fat Tuesday.
Nudist Cruise Visits Cozumel
A nudist cruise ship arrived to Cozumel on Sunday February 7th. The Celebrity Constellation came from Port Everglades, Florida on its journey to explore the Caribbean for 10 days. The boat has a capacity for 2,170 passengers and travelers can wander naked on the boat when they are not docked. This “dress code” being the only difference from other cruise ships.

A ship employee mentioned that this boat will not be docking in Cancun or Isla Mujeres as it would run the risk of running aground in low areas and/or destroy reefs. Trip destinations include Martinique, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Cozumel, and the Dominican Republic then returning to Fort Lauderdale. Apart from this ship, the company already has another nudist cruise scheduled for this year and for the year 2017. One of them is intended to visit some European cities.

Obviously ppassengers traveling on this cruise carry less luggage as opposed to when they schedule another kind of vacation. While at sea, passengers can undress and walk through the public areas of the ship such as swimming pools, lobby, and hallways and even at the casinos. However, while dining in restaurants, at the Captains reception and during stops in port, the travelers must be dressed. The travel agency’s headquarters are in Austin, Texas and has 25 years organizing cruises to leave clothes at home.
Zero Tolerance for Corruption in Quintana Roo
The High Court of Justice in the State (TSJE) dismissed two criminal judges stationed in Chetumal and Cancun, as well as having applied 10 administrative sanctions to equal number of servants that were detected to have been participating in various irregularities during their legal functions. This statement was made by the Magistrate José Antonio León Ruiz.

Interviewed in the Chetumal International Airport, the official explained that with the new anti-corruption law implemented by the Federal Government, the 32 States of Mexico have strengthened security measures to locate, detect and stop bad officials from the Executive, Legislative and Judicial levels and even Municipal areas. There is a total revision of the actions that are performed by all public servants 365 days of the year. He added that a local newspaper derived that in 2015, two judges, Lucía de el Pilar Aldana Lizama and Juan Carlos Quintal Canul, who worked in Chetumal and Cancun, were relieved of their duties when serious irregularities were detected in the performance of their duties.

León Ruiz pointed out that also in 2015, sanctions were applied to 10 administrative employees of the TSJE. These employees now have case files in writing that state that they were suspended from work and received economic penalties, which in turn is reason to fire them or proceed legally against them.

Finally, the Magistrate says that with the new system of Adversarial Criminal Justice (NSJPA), all public servants responsible for the delivery of justice are obliged to apply it correctly as specified by the Code of Existing Criminal Procedures in the State. This includes faultless behavior inside and outside of the work place. It goes without saying that they must be aware as to not engage in corruption cases, abuse of authority and other irregularities that can not only cost them their position, but their removal from public service and prison in extreme cases.
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May 5, 2015 (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 December 24, 2014 from the Department of State can also be viewed in its entirety on the {LINK Department of State website

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