The charm of Magical Towns has started to vanish due to the rising violence suffered by one out of each two towns appointed with that distinctive, as well as for the lack of budget from the federal government.
Created to support tourism in places with special attractions, the government program “Magical Towns” has been operating for 18 years and currently comprises 121 communities, 10 of which were recently incorporated on October 2018.
The other 111 received the appointment by the Tourism Ministry (Sectur) between 2001 and 2015; that is, they have been representing the brand from 4 to 18 years. However, these communities are not exempt from the violence wave that’s hitting Mexico.
The Executive Secretariat of the National System of Public Security (SESNSP) registered 680 alleged victims of murder in the 111 Magical Towns during the first half of this year.
Half of these towns saw an increase in the number of alleged first-degree murders during the last three years after a total of 465 investigation files were opened for this crime during the first semester of 2016.
Academics have said that there is insufficient information on Magical Towns regarding the number of tourists and the economical revenue they receive to evaluate the impact of violence in each locality.
With nine appointments each, the State of Mexico and Puebla are the two Mexican states with the highest number of Magical Towns in the country.
Six out of the nine Magical Towns in the State of Mexico have experienced major violence in the last three years, according to data of the SESNSP.
Those towns are Tepotzotlán, Metepec, Aculco, Ixtapan de la Sal, Villa del Carbón, Teotihuacán and San Martín de las Pirámides, where 49 pre-trial investigations for homicide have been registered during the first half of 2019.
Aurora González, secretary of tourism of the State of Mexico, calculates that the entity receives around 17 million visitors yearly, out of which 6 million visit its nine Magical Towns. Valle de Bravo receives 2.3 million tourists, which makes it the town with more visitors in the entity, followed by Tepotzotlán, with 2.1 million, while Aculco and El Oro have between 300,000 and 400,000 visitors.
From the perspective of González, public security is essential for tourism, that is why she asserts to be in permanent coordination and communication with the different municipalities to monitor efforts and strategies that allow tourists to be safe during their visit.
“We are articulating efforts with the State of Mexico’s Public Security Ministry, although we cannot say that tourists are being attacked, but that it is a situation lived generally,” she exposed in an interview with Mexico City based newspaper EL UNIVERSAL.
She mentions that although the federal administration stopped supplying funds for the program this year, the state administration is investing budget on Magic Towns and other municipalities with tourist vocation.
González is evaluating to propose the incorporation of one more locality to the brand because they consider it has generated economic development in places like Tepotzotlán, which before receiving the distinctive in 2002 had only seven hotels and tody has 37.
The Yucatan Times Newsroom with information from El Universal