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Tulum’s outlandish growth comes at a grave environmental cost

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Tulum National Park’s beach is crowded with tourists. Photo: Getty

Tulum, Q. Roo — This bohemian hotspot grew popular at a devastating cost to the environment, a German media site reports.

“Every day new buildings are built. And every day protected areas are destroyed,” says Carlos Meade, director of the environmental group Yaxché, Tree of Life.

While 20 years ago, Tulum was still  “a hidden paradise with only a few beachfront boutique hotels and houses,” today it’s “crammed with more than a hundred hotels and restaurants,” writes a reporter for Deutsche Welle.

Tulum had 2.4 million visitors in 2017 — 400,000 more than the year before. Many developers promote themselves as eco-friendly while the rampant construction of new hotels, restaurants and beach clubs destroys the environment.

Buildings are springing up around Tulum to cope with the number of tourists flocking to the area but at a cost to the environment. And the city’s coast lacks access to the power grid, relying largely on diesel generators to power air conditioners and other appliances.

“Those are all illegal constructions,” environmental engineer Dario Ferreira Piña, who works for Razonatura, an environmental organization, told DW. “It always starts with a small construction and eventually it turns into a big project. Little by little they are gaining grounds against the jungle.”

In 2015, the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) closed nine tourism projects at Tulum National Park, but these sporadic crackdowns are not enough to prevent new projects, Deutsche Welle reports.

Even when hotels are given closure orders they continue to operate in the area
“Mexico has all the laws and regulations it needs to protect the environment,” says Ferreira Piña. “The problem is corruption. People want to develop as fast as possible, and we have a corrupt government that allows it.”

Read more and see photos at dw.com.

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