Investment Studies Hamper Airport’s Progress Days After Maya Train Faces Similar Delays
The construction of Tulum’s new airport has been postponed by at least seven months after investment studies prevented the project from moving forward. The announcement comes days after the Maya Train project was also halted near Tulum.
The new airport was being touted as completed as early as December 2023 before opening in April along with the Maya Train. The news now suggests that the hub will not be functional until at least November 2023 assuming no more delays are experienced.
Government officials were still anticipating the December 2023 date as recently as two weeks ago, suggesting the delay will be a huge disappointment for those involved. The exact details of the investment study are unclear at this point, but speculation suggests it may be to help ensure the project does not experience a similar fate to the Maya Train project.
Many have protested the construction of the airport, claiming it will be responsible for the destruction of valuable rainforest and other valuable ecological features- once again, a familiar narrative to the Maya Train’s recent woes. The railway project has been halted definitely as environmental groups argue that its presence risks the destruction of underwater caves, cenotes, and undiscovered Mayan ruins.
The airport is part of larger plans to transform Tulum into a world-beating destination. But its explosive growth is not supported by the city’s infrastructure, and the addition of both the railway and a new airport are likely to see an even larger surge in tourism.
The airport itself is expected to see around four million passengers a year, drastically increasing the volume of tourists in Quintana Roo. The Cancun International airport is the only major airport currently serving the state, and anyone hoping to travel to Tulum must take further transport around two hours along the coast.
Cancun has already become one of the most connected airports on the planet, with direct flights landing in the city from major hubs in Europe as well as North and South America. Tulum would likely see a huge influx in operations from many of the same destinations as well as a few different ones.
Around 13 million tourists visited the state through Cancun last year and assuming the rates remain steady, the Tulum airport could allow seventeen million to visit the state, with an even bigger concentration in the fast-growing beach town.
Hotels are springing up all over the city, all seeking to capitalize on the city’s growth, drawing thousands of workers from other regions of Mexico. Many of these workers are living in illegal or off-grid settlements and earn a tiny salary in comparison to the room rates set by the hotels and resorts. The poverty level is tied to this, as Tulum saw a fifty percent increase in poverty between 2015 and 2020 owing to the massive influx of new workers. The poverty and tourism are also linked to the increase in violent crime that the state is currently dealing with.
The airport itself is said to be bringing somewhere in the region of four thousand jobs to the region. Whether the majority of these will be skilled workers in the form of immigration officers and other positions or jobs that some of the new locals can do is unclear.
Tulum is only set to grow and there is no doubt the airport and Maya Train will be completed, regardless of the delays involved. It is hoped that the attention being drawn to the projects might ensure that they cause the least amount of social, ecological, and cultural damage as possible.
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