Scientists have identified a huge floating mat of brown sargassum algae stretching across the Atlantic at a distance of about 5,500 miles. While it is being described as the “new normal” for many parts of the Atlantic, it is believed to have contributed to a drop in Mexico’s tourism industry. Jorge Reyes, who has owned a restaurant for 30 years in the Playa Del Carmen region, said the only other natural phenomenon comparable to the seaweed was Hurricane Wilma nearly 15 years ago.
He told Van Guardia: “Wilma was a disaster.
“But it does not compare to the sargassum.”
Mr Reyes added he first saw a drop in customers when thousands of tons of seaweed has started washing up on beaches in the Yucatan Peninsula, such as Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Holbox in 2015.
Not only is the seaweed an eye-sore but it also lets of an unpleasant stench of rotten eggs.
He said: “With this plague, people arrive, see this and leave to other places.
“The Sargassum has affected us more than a hurricane.
“After Wilma, for example, we cleaned and repaired some damages, and after three says, we already had customers. But now look at this.”
The restaurant owner then pointed to an empty terrace customers.
Mexico’s economy is already heading towards recession and the tourism industry is said to be the backbone of Cancun’s economy.
The number people booking hotels in Cancun fell by 3.4 percent in the first three weeks of June.
Air traffic in Cancun recorded a 1.2 percent increase in June, which was the month’s weakest growth since 2011.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Wilma destroyed the Yucatan Peninsula by causing millions of pounds worth of damage and the loss of thousands of jobs in the tourist sector of Quintana Roo.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador dos not appear worried by the invasion of the algae.
He considers the problem “controllable” and has allocated very little money towards eliminating it.
Laura Beristain, mayor of Solidaridad, where Playa Del Carmen is located, said in an interview on July 9 with Radio Fórmula, that the arrival of the sargassum is “something atypical”.
Floating barriers have now been installed in the sea to contain the sargassum and redirect it to “extraction points” along the shore.