Chetumal will have the first barrio mágico – magical neighborhood – in the Mexican Caribbean as authorities seek new ways to promote tourism outside of hotspots like Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The new initiative is slowly taking shape, and together with 32 other cities across Mexico, Chetumal will showcase local culture, history, and food.
Despite being lesser known than the likes of Cancun and Tulum, Chetumal is the bustling capital of the Mexican Caribbean state of Quintan Roo. The city of 169,000 people is home to a diverse array of attractions, from historical archeological sites to dazzling restaurants, and tourism officials are attempting to breathe new life into the city.
Authorities from the National Tourism Secretary recently announced a new scheme called Barrio Mágico (magical neighborhood in English), an effort to promote several unique neighborhoods around the country. The goal, officials say, is to highlight standout features from culture to architecture, among others.
In a recent press conference, Mara Lezama, the state governor, revealed that Chetumal would be the first city in the Mexican Caribbean to have a barrio mágico. More details will be released in the coming days concerning the exact whereabouts of Chetumal’s magical neighborhood, including its main sights and attractions.
The program, which is being launched nationwide, is expected to bring massive investments to the city, which receives far fewer visitors compared to other resort hotspots. Authorities are now hopeful that the city will gain in popularity thanks to its rich culture and history, as well as its diverse culinary scene.
Chetumal also enjoys excellent infrastructure, with excellent availability of hotels and online rentals. The city also has its own airport, although it currently only has domestic routes. According to guidelines published by the country’s tourism ministry, all Barrios Mágicos must meet certain requirements, including having original and unique cultural and historical sites.
Although few details have been revealed about Chetumal’s barrio mágico, tourism officials have pointed out that the program will focus on the city’s extensive history, cultural sites, and museum, as well as locally made products.
Chetumal is one of 32 cities in Mexico to be featured in the new program, and more cities are expected to be added later on. There are already several pueblo mágicos across the Mexican Caribbean, including in Isla Mujeres. Although they are similar in their approach, the new barrio mágico will focus more on entire neighborhoods that reflect the cities’ histories and stories. Moreover, state capitals do not legally qualify to be Pueblos Mágicos, which is a significant deterrent for places like Chetumal.
The Mexican Caribbean is mostly known for its stunning tropical beaches and massive all-inclusive resorts. The region is expected to break its all-time record for international arrivals this winter, with more than 26 million travelers projected to travel through Cancun International Airport alone.
With places like Cancun and Playa del Carmen soaring in popularity, resorts and hotels are quickly selling out, and some areas have reported occupancy rates of more than 90%. Travelers are increasingly seeking new destinations to explore, and Chetumal has great potential to be one of the Mexican Caribbean’s next tourist hotspots.
Some of the main sights in the capital city include its archeological sites, including Dzibanche and Kohunlich. Travelers can also head to the Museum of Mayan Culture for an overview of the region’s ancient Maya civilization. Being a seaside city, visitors can also enjoy plenty of local beaches close to Chetumal, including in nearby Calderitas. Chetumal can be reached by plane or bus from Cancun.
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