Sustainable Tourism for Economic RecoveryBy Rodrigo Brugada | Mon, 07/19/2021 - 17:02
The economic impact of COVID-19 was significant but, looking to the future, it is necessary to foster a rapid economic recovery without neglecting sustainability. In this way, Mexico's tourism strategies are shifting towards sustainable models that promote a more equitable recovery.
During the inauguration of the event "Mexico City, Capital of Sustainable Tourism: International Meeting of Nature Tourism," the Minister of Tourism of the Mexico City Government, Carlos Mackinlay Grohmann, pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for tourism. However, crises also provide opportunities to generate profound and significant changes, he said. Mackinlay indicated that the Ministry of Tourism is working on creating improved forms of tourism capable of generating greater social wellbeing.
Mackinlay emphasized that the country must work on tourism models that are not centered on mass tourism practices, which lead to the overexploitation of the tourist heritage and damage the country’s historical and cultural identity. The goal is to achieve tourism with a social, sustainable and inclusive approach. After more than a year of the pandemic, nature tourism has emerged as a good alternative for potential tourists seeking recreation outside urbanized environments. Hence the importance of promoting tourism in protected natural areas and forest communities, whose main attraction is green and open-air spaces.
This segment of tourism, which includes the modalities of ecotourism, adventure tourism and rural tourism, represents a global market of US$2.3 billion worldwide, according to a 2019 study by George Washington University and the Adventure Travel Trade Association. In Mexico, the official explained, one out of every four tourists carries out nature tourism-related activities.
Mexico is one of the main megadiverse countries globally, hosting twelve percent of the planetary biodiversity. Its wide range of ecosystems gives it a privileged position to promote this kind of tourism, considering the abundance and diversity of resources. Some of the possible tourist sites of interest are caves, cenotes, reefs, lagoons, waterfalls and deserts. Mexico also has 15,000 km of coastline, 137 million hectares of forests and jungles, 770,000 hectares of mangroves, 182 Natural Protected Areas and 363 areas voluntarily set aside for conservation.
Mackinlay also stated that Mexico has a conservation land division of more than 55 percent. Twelve percent of the country's biodiversity is found within this conservation land. As part of the strategies to promote tourism, he explained that the plan seeks to offer tools to entrepreneurs, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and cooperatives in the city to develop this type of activity.
In addition, Mexico has 34 sites that have been recognized as heritage sites by UNESCO. Of these, 27 are cultural sites, 6 are natural sites and one is mixed, combining cultural and natural values. This figure places Mexico as the first country in the Americas and the sixth globally with the largest number of properties recognized as World Heritage Sites. This biocultural wealth allows for the development of unique experiences in nature, community, indigenous and rural tourism.
For his part, the Minister of Tourism at the federal level, Miguel Torruco Marqués, said that the Ministry of Tourism has launched the "México Renace Sostenible" strategy, which includes projects and programs to create tourism circuits for social well-being and harmony with nature and strengthen biocultural identity. The strategy is carried out through alliances with government entities, state and municipal authorities, international organizations, civil society, private initiatives and academia.