Monday, April 30, 2012

Report: Green Spotlight on Mexico's Tourism Plans

« Build, Baby, Build ! »  Perhaps it’s not about drilling, but about building, when it comes to Mexico’s tourism planning.

The enthusiastic, all-chips-in approach of some players in the oil industry likewise applies to large-scale resort development, a formula begun with the success of Cancun, and replicated around the country and overseas.

President Felipe Calderon has set ambitious targets for tourism development in Mexico, as described in the previous post.  How will this fit into the sustainability agenda professed by their National Accord for Tourism?  How can they guide their growth so that it has long-term value ?

CREST, the Center for Responsible Tourism based in Stanford University, released a well-researched study about the prospects of tourism growth in Mexico with focus on coastal areas. The report is located on their site, the PDF can be downloaded here.  

They emphasize strategies to move tourism from the status quo of  "high volume" to rather a basis of "high value", one of the tenets of sustainable tourism. Guidelines for this high value approach are discussed, with technical and well-established systems such as the GSTC (global sustainable tourism criteria*), page 19, and the Inter-American Development Bank’s Scorecard, page 22, both of which are specific to the sustainability of the tourism industry.

Their analysis of climate change effects on coastal tourism is instructive, page 42, informing land use planning and infrastructure needs. It also provides pointers for individual investors who want to take a long term view into account. Their section on certification programs, page 53, shows the comprehensive options for architects, designers, and managers interested in the verification and marketing of tourism sustainability in

In all, the CREST study presents a hopeful outlook. Mexico has the puzzle pieces needed :  (decent) political willpower, pressure from US/Canadian consumer demand, and supporting organizations pushing the sustainability agenda.  Top-down, CREST provides policy suggestions for the government in its National Accord plan and implementation.  Bottom-up, they offer numerous case studies for the business community, illustrating how taking sustainbility into account has been beneficial for the long term bottom line.

Still, the inertia is on the flip side of the coin.  Although those disconnected agendas – government, business, and consumers – are beginning to intersect on the sustainability issue, they are probably not coming together fast enough, except in some small pockets  (excuse the pun).

*Coastal EcoVentures participating as an expert in the UN working group to finalize the GSTC.

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