BY SANDY BEECH
Finishing projects that are already under way, reviewing programs currently in place and not undertaking new, grandiose ventures will be among the tourism priorities of the next federal government, according to the man who will be Mexico’s new tourism secretary.
Miguel Torruco will be our next top federal tourism leader. President elect Lopez Obrador, (commonly AMLO), has already appointed most of this cabinet and they’re hitting the road running. Already. Torruco promises he won’t abandon any projects currently in progress, specially citing the Escalera Nautica, (Nautical Staircase), project in Baja. That was a scheme that so far hasn’t gained much traction, (other than insiders already buying up property near it). Escalera Nautica is a series of small craft marinas planned for about a day’s boat trip between them. “There won’t be grandiose projects that remain unfinished,” Torruco promised.
Torruco also said that he will carry out an “exhaustive review” of the Pueblos Mágicos,(Magical Towns) program, saying the parameters and objectives have become unclear and that the designation now gets handed out like candy. To become a magic town, there has to be something special about it. Tecate, an hour from Rosarito, or 90 minutes from Ensenada is a magic town.
“We have to be realistic, a town that enters into the program should have certain characteristics and commitments,” Torruco said. There are now 111 pueblos mágicos in Mexico, a number that has grown rapidly in recent years and led to claims that the program is more about politics than tourism that a magical designation comes down to negotiations between state governors and federal authorities, with money being the main motivator. Magic towns are for sale? Yes, some of them have been bought and paid for.
Torruco said that in order for a new town to now be awarded magical town status, it must not only meet certain requirements that make it worthy of the name but also that agreements with municipal, state and federal authorities as well as the private sector must be in place to ensure that it is funded and developed as it should be. And that has been a complaint by some magic town citizens. That there are certain programs that must be implemented and some of them are costly. The incoming secretary cited San Cristóbal in Chiapas as an example of a destination that received the magical town destination but failed to meet the objectives of the program due to a lack of funding.
Meanwhile, Roberto Cintrón, the president of the Cancun Hotel Ass. promised support for the new guy, and promised they would get a handle on the latest infestation of stinky ugly seaweed that has invaded their beaches. And, oh yes, they could use some help with that periodic problem.
Torruco said that diversifying the tourism market to avoid over-dependence on United States visitors would continue to be a priority for the next government.
The future secretary said he was committed to stamping out corruption in the tourism secretariat and implementing cost-cutting measures such as eliminating first-class travel for high-ranking officials. “We will continue to have the same budget at Sectur, (the Secretariat of Tourism] but there is going to be a salary reduction for those at the top to increase salaries for those at the bottom.”