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Mexican Government Blocks Cancun Hotel Construction To Protect Environment

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Construction Permits Blocked As Controversy Rages Over Maya Train And Tulum’s Hotels

A branch of the Mexican Government has blocked the construction of two hotels in the Cancun Hotel Zone. The decision comes as the Maya Train Project faces a similar barrier to its own construction.

beach construction site

At this point, it is unclear which companies were building the hotels. Still, according to the Ministry of Environmental and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), the proposed hotels would have been in Lots 15-18 and 15-19 on Kukulcan Boulevard. Phrasing from the source suggests that construction may have already started on one of the properties, but this is yet to be clarified.

Combined, the hotels would have added one thousand extra rooms to Cancun’s already massive inventory of accommodations. One would have over five hundred suites, while the other was expected to have just under five hundred. The entire investment in the properties was around $180 million, representing a significant amount of money, and would have brought in over a thousand jobs throughout their construction and operation.

construction site at sunset

Reports suggest that the construction projects near the Cancun International Airport could damage the environment and place important ecosystems at risk. In particular, the sites are near an area of mangroves and beaches where protected loggerhead turtles often lay their eggs.

Turtle protection is a crucial focus for many environmental groups, as the animals are often threatened by human effects on the coastline. Turtles generally lay their eggs in shallow nests in the sand, where an unsuspecting person could easily walk over them. Once the eggs hatch, baby turtles must make their way to the ocean alone.

loggerhead turtles

Many cities around the world are seeing a tragic tendency for the hatchlings to mistake the lights of a city or nearby building for where they are supposed to go. These turtles generally don’t survive and often find themselves killed by dogs, cats, or even hit by cars.

It is unclear if the hotels will be allowed to move forward with adapted plans or if the spot is too vital for the local ecosystems.

turtle protection site

The fact that access has been denied is telling of the current climate in the region. Quintana Roo has come under fire in recent months for its apparent neglect of the environment. Its soaring popularity means investments are at an all-time high, and many projects are cutting corners in the process.

Tulum has drawn significant criticism, and a damning report on the town suggested that less than 0% of projects completed in the last decade had proper planning permission. Many of the hotels tore down sections of rainforest and are based on the shoreline. If the reports are as troubling as reported, the damage to the area would be hard to quantify at this point.

csancun hotel zone with crane

There are suggestions that the decision may be loosely in response to the Maya Train Project’s current woes. The project, which is a signature election promise of Mexican President AMLO, has been halted after a key section of the railway line was claimed to be destroying underground caves, cenotes, and even Mayan archeological sites.

The controversial decision has drawn attention to the system of approvals and environmental checks the region initiates. In particular, it highlights the tendency of many companies to skip important procedures to get their establishments running and profitable as quickly as possible at the expense of the local environment.

beach site construction

It is hoped that the decision is the first of many designed to protect the state. Cancun was initially chosen as a site because of its natural beauty. Its popularity is wonderful for the economy, but without apt consideration and intentional processes, the rainforests, coral reefs, beaches, and mangroves that attract millions every year could be in danger.

cancun skyline with cranes

Anyone interested in the environmental implications of hotels or restaurants in the region should contact establishments directly to see what is being done to help conserve the area. Many hotels now have an “eco” slant, where everything done in the hotel is designed to work with and not against the environment. 

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