89.6 F
Friday, May 27, 2022

Senate rejects tourist tax meant to help fund Mayan Train

Legislators were under pressure not to discourage tourism with high travel fees

Latest headlines

Mérida’s Noche Blanca 2022 is finally here, and it’s going to be enormous

Five free buses will help visitors navigate La Noche Blanca in Mérida. Photo: Courtesy The citywide arts celebration...

WhatsApp hacks in Yucatán reach ‘alarming rates’

Over the past few days in Yucatán, a growing number of people are reporting having their WhatsApp accounts hacked. 

A Progreso beach is more popular now that the pigs have moved in

A simple concept is drawing more and more visitors to Pig Beach in Yucalpetén,

New study reveals the stunning cost of corruption in Yucatán

According to a new study by the INEGI, corruption in Yucatán costs the state 9.5 billion pesos a year, the highest in the entire country. 
Yucatán Magazine
Yucatán Magazine has the inside scoop on living here. Sign up to get our top headlines delivered to your inbox every week.
An analyst from Barclays cast doubt on Mexico’s ability to complete the Mayan Train project. Photo: Facebook

Mexico’s Senate has voted down a colossal tax hike, previously approved by the House of Congress, to fund the Mayan Train.

The proposal would have increased the immigration services tax by 388% and would have impacted both Mexican nationals with relatives abroad and potential tourists.

Legislators were under heavy pressure from business groups worried that the hike would discourage tourism and make the country one of the most expensive to visit.

The tax was largely justified by supporters to fund the Mayan Train, a 1,475-km railway around the Yucatan peninsula. Announced in December 2018, the four-year project was originally budgeted at US$7.4 billion.

Such an extreme funding strategy suggests that project finances have become difficult to sustain, especially after previous funding attempts failed. For example, the Mexican Grand Prix has already had funding from the Department of Tourism revoked and Mexico’s Tourism Board has been decommissioned, both to divert funds to the railway.

In June, major cutbacks were also made, intended to save US$287 million by reducing the length of the railway by 55 km. Plans are pushing ahead nonetheless.

Environmental and indigenous concerns

Resistance to the planned railway on environmentalist grounds is another risk factor that is being ignored. Activists were protesting against the plans even before they were officially announced.

The National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI) still needs to give official permission for the railway, which will traverse a UN-protected reserve of pristine rainforest. Approval could take months. President Lopez Obrador is still effectively going ahead without this legally required decision and a series of tenders for contractors and services were announced in March.

The president has sought validation through a ritual officiated by indigenous Mayan priests, promising no underground tunneling and to use low-emission locomotives. Yet this will not prevent massive environmental damage, critics maintain.

Negative impact

Local people in the Yucatan peninsula have been assured the rail line will create “hundreds of thousands of jobs” while boosting income from tourism.

Some of the country’s biggest attractions will indeed be made more accessible to tourists, including the beaches at Tulum and Mexico’s most famous archaeological site, Chichén Itzá. The train will even reach Palenque, in Chiapas, which is difficult to reach.

Despite these promises, the EZLN Zapatista group, a powerful force in Mayan politics, has already promised to oppose the project, saying it will mean “destruction” for local people and their culture.

Other infrastructure projects, including an oil refinery and a new airport, are already weighing on AMLO’s budget.

Source: Agencies via Railway Technology news

- Advertisement -

Subscribe Now!

More articles

After more than 2 months, why are Mérida’s most iconic monuments still covered in graffiti?

Since the protests held on International Women’s Day back in early March, several of Mérida’s historic monuments remain covered in graffiti. 

Scientists warn some types of sargassum could impact on human health

Large amounts of sargassum are now washing a shore in locations previously relatively untouched by the algae, such as the theme...

The sights, sounds, and flavors of vibrant Chinatown in CDMX

Mexico City’s Chinatown is crowded, frenzied, and chaotic — but in an oddly great sort of way.

Mérida, but not the Caribbean resorts, named in Airbnb survey

Mérida Yucatán is one of the oldest cities on the American continent and boasts the oldest cathedral on the continent’s mainland....

Yucatán goes from 0 to 78 daily COVID cases in 6 weeks

The Yucatán health ministry reported 78 new COVID infections, the highest number of daily new cases since March.

Pig farm accused of hiding cenotes and filling them in with cement

A pig farm in the municipality of Homún is being accused of filling in and hiding two cenotes from environmental authorities. 

New augmented reality app tells the story of Mérida’s iconic corner plaques

Mérida´s municipal government is launching a new mobile phone application to tell the story of the city’s iconic Centro corner plaques.

Tortas in the Park: Family carries on the tradition for 63 years 

Taqueria Don Beto in Parque Las Américas. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht Strolling through charming Parque de...

Kankí, the Maya city where the stone eyes of ancient gods burn as hot as the sun

Kankí may be only 10 miles or so from the Mérida-Campeche highway, but feels a world away.

La Plancha park project moves forward with a huge budget

Government officials announced an agreement to make the La Plancha land 100% parkland. Photo: Contributed The park that...