Mexico must halt ecological overexploitation by tourism, experts say

File photo dated Aug. 8, 2018, showing fishermen cleaning up oil from a spill on a beach in Salina Cruz, in Mexico's Oaxaca state. EFE-EPA/Luis Villalobos

MEXICO CITY.- Tourism in Mexico must promote taking care of biodiversity with measures such as mitigating the environmental footprint to try and halt the ecological overexploitation being suffered by some of the country’s tourist destinations.

The director of the Tourism Faculty at Anahuac University, Francisco Madrid Flores, told EFE that the destinations have to understand that climate change, desertification, traffic congestion, air quality and the massive generation of waste are factors that need to be taken into account in tourism planning.

«We’re at an opportune moment for asking that tourist destinations be sustainable. The official policy that must be pushed by the new federal administration has to go down that road,» he said.

«Given that there are destinations that have already gone beyond the human impact and have a very pressing situation, it’s necessary to adopt a clearer vision in tourism and environmental policies to achieve synergies to benefit both,» he added.

The tourism industry is responsible for almost 8 percent of Mexico’s GDP and creates some 10 million direct and indirect jobs.

According to Madrid Flores, the destinations that best exemplify ecological overexploitation are the paradise ports of Cancun, Acapulso and Los Cabos, places where the massive inflow of travelers has brought social problems, economic inequality and the loss of biodiversity.

Recently, Mexico City’s tourism secretary, Carlos Mackinlay said that there are places in the capital that are oversaturated in terms of hotels and the lack of space makes it very difficult to create new infrastructure.
To that, he added that – if new tourism alternatives are not created – the capital’s downward trajectory will be very rapid.

According to Mexico’s Tourism Promotion Council, sustainability incorporated into tourism promotion is a trend that has come to stay and Mexico is lagging somewhat in that regard.

In addition, the entity also feels that this has to be pushed in keeping with a vision that balances social and environmental responsibility with the profitability of investments.

Meanwhile, the World Tourism Organization warns in its guidelines that local action must be taken to achieve responsible and sustainable tourism that can simultaneously maintain competitiveness and proper management of the tourist destinations.

According to this organization, in 1950 there were 25 million international tourists, a figure that over the past 70 years has skyrocketed to an estimated 1.52 billion travelers per year by 2020.

Miguel Angel Muñoz Luna, the president of the Hotel Association in San Cristobal de las Casas, a city in the southeastern state of Chiapas, told EFE that tourism has to understand that sustainability is a part of doing business.

According to the Nielsen marketing research firm, 66 percent of consumers worldwide would pay more to go to tourist spots if they are sustainable.

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