Is Sustainable Tourism Really Coming to Tulum Mexico

Beach at Tulum Ruins

For those of us who have been traveling to the Riviera Maya, and Mexico in general, many times over the past decade or so, the rapid pace of change in this area has likely become a point of concern to most.

What was until recently sleepy little fishing villages and small communities with nothing more than a few dirt roads and houses, have now blown up into cities bursting at the seams. Their infrastructure unable to keep up with the growth.

Let me be clear, this is not the only area of Mexico this is happening to, just look at Bucerias, in the State of Jalisco, where they had a to build a whole new above ground highway system to move traffic through the area in order to avoid hours-long traffic jams at certain times of day.

However, it seems to be most evident in this particular area of Mexico for a number of reasons, the first one being it shows no signs of slowing down, the second one would have to be that if no one steps in it’s going to spiral completely out of control.

With no guidelines in place to protect the environment, nature and animal habitats, marine life, the historical artifacts and discoveries that seem to be made at almost every build site lately, and more; then the chaos threatens to be overtaken and overshadowed by the almighty tourism dollars that seem to rule the roost in everything but the drug trade in countries such as this.

So Here's What We Know

On Wednesday, September 19 it was announced by the Tourism Minister of Quintana Roo, Marisol Vanegas Pérez, that the President, Enrique Peña Nieto, will be signing a decree that will declare the Municipality of Tulum a Sustainable Tourism Zone. This is set to happen by October 15, prior to his leaving office.

This declaration would create the first Sustainable Tourism Zone (ZDTS) in Mexico. This designation will then focus on implementing a range of sustainable tourism schemes based on the green economy. 

Why Tulum?

Tulum was chosen because of the high growth it is experiencing at present. The highest growth in Quintana Roo. But that growth is chaotic and dysphoric (sorry – that’s like my new favourite word – it means – state of dissatisfaction, anxiety, restlessness, or fidgeting). 

If you’ve ever been to Tulum there isn’t a lot there. Yet they are building and building all around it. A lot of people, including hubby and I, love to go visit the ruins. We take a Collectivo, or a taxi, depending on where we are staying. It lets you off on the highway just outside the entrance, and you walk in. Once, we rented a car and parked, then walked around. A lot of places were closed because it was offseason.

Their infrastructure is desperately in need of massive upgrades. If they are going to build the hotels, condos, houses, shops, and more, that are on the books for future development, all of these things need to be addressed. Then there is the water and sewer infrastructure that needs to be looked into as well.

The list seems pretty endless. And then you have to remember that the water for every single system they have is fed by their amazing, natural underwater Cenote system. A precious, irreplaceable resource, that should almost be classified as a Heritage or Protected Resource. 


Where do we go from here?

Right now – it’s a waiting game. The government seems to be taking things seriously at the moment.

So far in 2018 six resort developments have been affected in the Tulum area, prior to this ZDTS designation being in place – 5 developments were halted in May by the environmental protection agency Profepa in the Hotel Zone; and 1 earlier this week, the 520-room resort development La Calma was blocked by the federal Secretariat of the Environment.

Hopefully things go as planned, or as close to as planned, we all know how things go on Mexican time. Stay tuned for future updates! This is exciting news for sure!

Are there any other areas to be designated

At present no other areas are on the books to be designed ZDTS (Sustainable Tourism Zones), however, Isla Mujeres, off the coast of Cancun has been mentioned for future consideration. 


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