The allure of Mexico and the Caribbean is undeniable for many Americans seeking a warm and sunny reprieve from another brutal winter.
Fortunately, airfare to some of the most popular destinations throughout the region is down this winter, according to data from Airlines Reporting Corp.
Based on roundtrip air tickets purchased from U.S. travel agencies by February 1, 2017, for trips taking place between Dec. 1, 2016, and Feb. 28, 2017, ticket prices to nine of the 10 most popular destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean are down compared to this time last year.
The average ticket price to fly to Cancun, Mexico — which is the top spot for winter travel in the region with almost 63,000 tickets sold — is down nearly $15 from last winter, coming in at $485.51.
While Guadalajara, Mexico, isn't as popular as Cancun, the average ticket price to the region's eighth-most booked destination has dropped off significantly since last year, falling from $507.45 in 2016 to $435.58 this year.
Average ticket prices are also down for travel to Mexico City ($529.52), San Juan, Puerto Rico ($438.58), Los Cabos ($539.79), Montego Bay, Jamaica ($556.46), Puerto Vallarta ($510.73), Nassau, Bahamas ($491.75) and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic ($529.27).
Mexico travel expert Greg Custer credits Southwest Airlines' aggressive expansion into Mexico for helping reduce prices, calling the low-cost carrier's growth “a game-changer for many U.S. gateways.”
“It’s brought price and service competition back into the Mexico equation,” said Custer. “It’s also remarkable how Mexico domestic airfares have plummeted. It’s common to find intra-Mexico roundtrip fares for under $100 roundtrip.”
According to TravelPulse’s editor for the Caribbean and Latin America, Brian Major, “the rate declines may be due in part to a significant increase in airlift to the region this decade.”
Nonetheless, he says the lower prices signal good news for travelers given the experiences to be had in many of the aforementioned destinations.
“These cities to a great extent define the mainstream Caribbean vacation experience as all offer signature Caribbean hotel and resort brands and the attributes, from distinctive cuisine and music to colonial history and African culture, that vacationers to the region seek.”
Of the top 10 destinations based on ARC's ticket sale data, only Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, has seen an increase this winter compared to last, with the average price jumping about $10 to $600.95.
(TravelPulse is a leading travel authority on the Web, providing consumer travel news and insider tips and advice for an ever-changing travel world. Read more stories at travelpulse.com