More Articles Emerge Highlighting Tulum’s Unplanned Growth And The Issues It’s Causing The Region
The growth of Tulum, the popular seaside resort town, has drawn further criticism for the environmental, economic, and infrastructural problems created in its wake. The most recent article comes from the Mexican news outlet Noticieros Televisa.
Titled The Destruction of Tulum, the majority of the piece focuses on the environmental impact the town’s explosive growth has had on the surrounding area. The article states that Tulum is a paradise that is “up for sale”, pointing to the legal ambiguities that led to the quick approval and constriction of thousands of hotels, luxury homes, and other tourist-based projects that have destroyed mangroves, rainforest, and coral reef in the process.
Suggesting that the need for profit has created a “legal vacuum” in Tulum, the magazine runs in a similar vein to a recent Bloomberg piece that likened the area to Acapulco. The Bloomberg article’s angle was geared more toward the violence growing as a result of tourists’ drug habits, but the source of both issues has stemmed from the town’s unchecked growth.
The investigation quoted in the article claims that a group of more than 200 businesses could and should be held responsible for environmental crimes in Tulum. For example, the illegal destruction of mangroves and rainforests to build malls and hotels.
Ecological and environmental regulations have not been updated in recent years according to the report, leading to well over 2000 projects being approved with no added precautions being taken. Similar events are currently taking place with the construction of the Maya Train. Many groups are attempting to halt the construction on the grounds of environmental protection and historical and cultural protection, but it is unlikely that any of these groups will find success.
More worrying still is the relatively unknown impact on the local populations. Until recently, Tulum was a small fishing town. Its explosion into a major tourist hub has left many of the locals displaced and priced out of their own areas.
According to the statistics, 36 percent of Tulum’s population lived below the poverty line in 2018, well before the pandemic changed the face of the town. By 2020, that figure had reached a shocking 58%- a huge increase in such a short period of time. Of those below the threshold in 2018, 7.1 percent were classed as being in extreme poverty. Again, by 2020 that figure skyrocketed to a heartbreaking 23.1 percent.
Tulum is only set to grow in the coming months and years. Just this week, globally renowned hotel brand Hilton opened two new properties in the city and already suggested more are on the way. Many other brands are following suit along with plans for medical tourism, short-term rental properties, and of course, the brand new international airport.
The airport is expected to host as many as 4 million passengers a year, further evidence of the faith the travel industry has in Tulum. The problems it faces will rarely be felt by the tourists that spend their vacations in the town, and as long as the money continues to flow in, it’s equally unlikely that those same problems will be dealt with.
The uptick in violence is the larger concern for tourists who fear a far more direct consequence of visiting the region, regardless of how unlikely that is to happen.
Despite the growing number of features being written about Tulum, little appears set to change in the near future. The only problems worth fixing from a monetary standpoint are those impact the visitors – for the moment that means sargassum and gang violence.
Those traveling to Tulum with any concerns about the environmental sustainability of any hotels or activity providers they may wish to use should contact the establishment directly with any questions.
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