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Towns struggle to maintain status as ‘magic towns’

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Atlixco, in central Mexico, at the foot of the Popocatépetl volcano, is a “magical town.” Photo: Getty

At least 10 so-called “magical towns” could lose that prestigious designation, warns Christian Berger Trauwitz, president of the National Association of Pueblos Mágicos.

Berger Trauwitz said that of the 111 certified pueblos mágicos, three recently lost and then regained the distinction.

Getting on the list is hard; staying there isn’t a cakewalk, either.

Becoming a magical town is an honor, and just a small percentage of Mexico’s 2,500 municipalities have the heritage, infrastructure, safety, beauty and integrity to be enrolled in the elite program. Once named a magic town, economic benefits follow, both from the program and from tourists.

It’s been years since a new magical town has been named. A tourism department committee is evaluating 85 municipal applications.

But standards are high, and have been tightened after the current administration perceived over-generosity on the part of previous office-holders. In Yucatán, only Izamal and Valladolid are “magical towns.”  Maní has tried and failed to impress judges. In Quintana Roo, Tulum qualified years ago, despite infrastructure worries.

Two towns lost the designation, and it took months for them to recover, she said. Another 10 are on thin ice. Berger Trauwitz did not name the towns.

The National Tourism and Culture Forum last week counted 4.6 national and international tourists that were drawn to pueblos magicos, which are positioned as alternatives to typical sun-and-fun vacation destinations.

But the program isn’t just a tourism program. It formed 17 years ago as a way to encourage historic towns to maintain their heritage while remaining safe and efficient.

Source: La Jornada Maya

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