By ARQ. RICARDO ALVARADO – Architect – Project & Residential Construction Director at Senderos de Ciudad Mayakoba
Mexico’s sustained tourism growth in the last 12 years, particularly the second half of them, evidences the needs and challenges that have been faced in terms of urban development and housing in different coastal cities, particularly in those with an eminently tourist profile. It is a global trend and Mexico is no stranger to it.
The reasons are many, deriving mainly from the expansion of economic activities related to port and commercial development (in the Pacific area), oil extraction (in the Gulf of Mexico) and, of course, tourism development. On the latter, we have Mazatlan, Los Cabos, Acapulco and Huatulco in the Pacific; Tampico and Veracruz in the Gulf of Mexico; and in the Caribbean, Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. Merida can be included in this last group, due to its relative proximity to the sea by the town of Progreso, and Campeche, which is turning back again towards tourism.
On the other hand, a strong ideology emerged in the 1960s – transforming into an actual trend later on – oriented towards the search to improve the quality of life and the health of the family, leading this to the preference for locations with richer environmental surroundings, promoting the moving of populations to new centers with better urban planning.
Studies by the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico, Geographical Investigations, Bulletin 40) show how this almost explosive evolution has come to be in the two Mexican coasts. Suffice it to mention that between the years 1900 and 1995, the Pacific coasts went from hosting four population centers to eighty-three; while in the Atlantic (including the Caribbean), growth went from five population centers to ninety-five, several of them becoming large cities, such as Merida and Cancun (with populations ranging from 500,000 to less than one million). Today, both cities are large, with more than one million inhabitants, or very close already.
The impressive urban and real estate development occurring in the Yucatan Peninsula is not fortuitous. We can describe it as a development axis that begins in Merida, to which Campeche is being incorporated. To the south, it goes along the coast of Quintana Roo, getting to Tulum, and going on to continue in Costa Maya, ending in Chetumal’s border with Belize. In terms of tourism, the Yucatan Peninsula is the great power of the Caribbean, since it competes with other countries and with the tourist giant that is Florida and its emblematic Miami.
This region has become increasingly attractive for Mexicans all over the country, who are finding employment and a better quality of life here. Families arriving here are even achieving one of the greatest goals a family can dream of: to have a home of their own, whether they purchase it with their own resources or through credit, or build their own house in one of the many real estate developments.
Opportunities are vast, although they do represent a challenge for state and local governments in terms of planning, promotion and regulation of urban development, including electrical, water and, particularly, sanitary infrastructure, aligned with environmental preservation and protection.
National businessmen and real estate developers have faced this challenge with an unwavering will, aimed at covering the demand of all socioeconomic segments with multiple products, as well as through constantly-evolving environmental and urban planning, a sustainable development that benefits us all.