Category Archives: Sustainable Tourism

The Threat of Development to the Cenotes

Fotos de lanchas y varios 131Rapid development of the coast of Quintana Roo has set the stage for the underground rivers and the aquifer they serve to be detrimentally affected. In the last ten years, the 120-kilometer strip of beach known as the Riviera Maya has seen an explosion in growth. It is considered by many to be the fastest growing area in Latin America with an annual growth rate estimated to be between 20-25%. Behind this boom is the tourist industry, which, while creating jobs, has ironically placed great stresses on the environment that brings millions of tourist back to the area year after year. It took only seven years for the Riviera Maya to equal the number of hotel rooms that took nearby Cancun 25 years to build. Filling these 22,000 rooms are an estimated 2.5 million tourists who visit the Riviera Maya each year. Moreover, many of the region’s major attractions are located along the Riviera Maya, meaning that the millions of visitors to Cancun and cruise ship passengers landing in Cozumel are leaving their footprints as well.

Much of the area’s development has been based on the premise that it is ‘easier to ask for forgiveness than permission’. This philosophy coupled with inadequate waste disposal laws and their spotty enforcement has set the stage for a potential
environmental and economic catastrophe. Urban sprawl has followed behind. In the most dramatic example, Playa del Carmen,
which had a population of 10,000 in the early 1990’s, is now estimated to have a population surpassing 150,000. Basic sanitary infrastructure has not been able to keep up with this rapid growth. We can prevent Tulum and Punta allen from this rapid growing.

Source: Sam Meacham. CINDAQ. Centro de Investigacion del sistema aquifero de Quintana Roo.