When we talk about Quintana Roo and the Yucatan Peninsula we are discussing two of Mexico’s busiest and most successful tourist destinations. These are places of truly worldwide renown and of high quality experiences. Over the last 40 years the tourist trade has steadily grown in these places until an estimated 8 million tourists and 3 million cruise ship passengers pass through on a yearly basis. This trade has brought economic stability and growth to the region, but have, of course, also had a noticeable economic impact. Thankfully, however, the locals have noticed that there is a potential here for responsible and sustainable eco-tourism. This is evidenced by the developments and programs that can be found in and around the Sian Ka’an Biosphere.
Responsible Tourism in Sian Ka’an
The Sian Ka’an is one of the most beautiful and protected areas of land in the Yucatan Peninsula. Not only is it a protected nature reserve, but this is a place which has attained the coveted UNESCO World Heritage Site status. This is hardly a surprise, though, when you consider the unique ecosystems, virgin coastline and the traditions that are preserved within the Biospheres villages.
There are many people looking to take advantage of the Yucatan Peninsula’s exceptional potential for ecotourism, but there has been a veritable scarcity of local public policies to consolidate the efforts. This is why it is so comforting to find out that certain international organizations (notably the UN and the Inter-American Development Bank) are now working with the Amigos de Sian Ka’an Actions for Nature association in order to promote responsible tourism in the area.
Studies have found that this region in Mexico is perfect for sustainable ecotourism, and has noted no fewer than 17 companies in the biosphere which are dedicated to responsible tourism in the region. They have begun the process of building positive relationships with the local tour operators which are interested in sustainable ecotourism. This can only be a good thing for an area of Mexico which has been identified as a place where authentic, high social benefit, low environmental impact responsible tourism is possible.
The Future of Responsible Tourism in Sian Ka’an
So what does the future look like for the Sian Ka’an? Well, 2016 was a great year for ecotourism; programs advocating responsible tourism began to be consolidated, and a series of programs which aimed to set up the Sian Ka’an as a leader in responsible tourism were kick-started. The benefits of such programs are economic and social, long and short term. In 2017 – 2018 we can expect to see the results of these programs as well as, hopefully, an increase in responsible tourism in the area.