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Should Yucatán develop its very own Cancún-like hotel zone?

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Yucatán’s coast is already developed, especially in areas within 60-90 minutes from Mérida. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Tourism developers suggest developing a three-mile-long hotel zone along Yucatán’s coast.

Backers say that if successful, this new project would create thousands of much-needed jobs for the state. 

“Yucatán has over 300 kilometers of coastline suitable for development. The idea would be for the state and federal government to allocate at least five for this project,” said Juan José Martín Pachecho, President of Yucatán’s chapter of Mexico’s hotel association. 

Martín Pachecho also mentioned that the project would ideally be located close to Mérida to make it more attractive to investors.

But given how much construction already exists along Yucatán’s coastline, particularly in communities within an hour or so of Mérida, it is hard to imagine where exactly this hotel zone would be located. 

The project is reminiscent of efforts carried out by the federal government in the 1970s to create the then-brand-new resort city of Cancún

Earlier: Progreso’s boardwalk gets a new makeover — despite closure

There are of course many differences between the northern coast of Quintana Roo in the 1970s and Yucatán’s current-day beaches. For instance, back in the 1970s the area which is now Cancún was inhabited by only an extremely small number of people and the land which became the hotel zone was extremely inexpensive and uncontested — something which can not be said for Yucatán’s coastline in 2021.

Despite vague reassurances that such a project would not harm the environment, Yucatán is already struggling with the loss of coastal ecosystems such as mangroves and wetlands — to say nothing of coastal erosion

A similar project was attempted early this century along Campeche’s Costa Esmeralda which came to a screeching halt during the 2007 financial crisis. 

This failed project left the coastline littered with unfinished hotels, roads to nowhere, and dozens of luxury homes that sit unoccupied and are now used mainly as drug dens

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