Quintana Roo hoteliers fight Semarnat’s Natural Protected Area initiative
The Cancun Hotel Association (AHC) argues that the declaration of the Mexican Caribbean as a Natural Protected Area (NPA) means the end to the construction of more than 27,000 new hotel rooms projected for Cancun, Riviera Maya and Isla Mujeres in the years to come. This figure represents nearly a third of the 87,000 rooms currently operating in this area.
Carlos Gosselin Maurel, leader of the AHC, said that a letter has been sent to the head of the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), Rafael Pacchiano German, with a copy to President Enrique Peña Nieto, asking them to desist from this conservationist initiative.
The hotel sector leader said that in Puerto Morelos alone, 13,000 rooms are planned for the next 10 years; another 8,000 rooms for the area of Solidaridad, 3,000 more for Cancun and another 8,000 for the continental area of Isla Mujeres, which is one of the fastest growing tourism infrastructures in the country. He stressed that this conservationist measure would put this growth at risk.
Vicente Ferreyra Acosta, director of the consultancy firm “Sustainable Tourism” (Turismo Sustentable: Sustentur), declared that this initiative has been in a public consultation period since April 22, in order for the different actors involved in this project to have a say on the subject.
Ferreyra Acosta said that this is one of the most ambitious conservation projects of the federal government, as 30 million hectares declared protected areas currently exist throughout the country. The declaration of the Mexican Caribbean as a Natural Protected Area would increase this surface by 20% , because the proposal is to create a reserve of just over 5 million hectares, covering virtually the entire state of Quintana Roo.
This means a substantial change in the model of resource management and state-marine coastal development; all decisions and authorizations at a municipal level will be measured and reviewed based on environmental impact on this new Natural Protected Area.
“It’s a subject that can sound very complex, but is strictly necessary,” Ferreyra Acosta stated.
The leader of the hoteliers, Carlos Gosselin Maurel, declared that a block of 16 business corporations was formed to oppose this initiative as they consider it will put a stop to one of the country’s most important tourism developments, which would result in a loss of competitiveness against other countries in the Caribbean, in which Mexico is now leader, featuring the largest hotel infrastructure of the entire region, with more than 85,000 hotel rooms in the Cancun-Riviera Maya corridor.
“Putting the break” on tourism development
Miriam Cortes Franco, deputy director of the Association of Vacation Clubs of Quintana Roo (Acluvaq) said that her association will seek to prevent the imposing of restrictions to tourism development in Quintana Roo, as happened once before with the so called “Law on Mangrove Protection”, which at the time forced several projects to be canceled.
Cortés Franco stated: “With this overprotection we do not know what is going to happen. What are the authorities pretending do with all those permits already granted, with the lack of legal certainty regarding the use of land?
“The only thing that is really happening in this country today is called “Tourism”, oil prices continue to fall, the currency exchange is going up, the only successful sector in the country is tourism and are we going to block its progress again? I really do not understand,” she continued.
Without referring by name to the Malecon Tajamar case, Cortés Franco said that this case that has gone around the world, is a clear example of how Mexico is closing the door to development that creates jobs and brings new investment and how this would stop future investment to come to our country, if the creation of this new Natural Protected Area is allowed.
Green vs gray
– 11 billion pesos ($600,000 USD) investment was stopped in Tajamar, by the”Law on Mangrove Protection”.
– 1 new RIU Cancun property was stopped by an injunction claiming the right of the public to a healthy environment.
– 2 large projects for 8 new hotels on the “Golden Mile” (Puerto Morelos), were detained due to environmental permits process.
– 4 projects were rejected in Holbox due to negative environmental impact.
– 3,000 new rooms that were announced for the continental Isla Mujeres and Riviera Maya area this year, will not be built if this Natural Protected Area initiative passes.