For all of the challenges facing the Gulf Of California region ecologically, global trends in sustainable tourism offer potential solutions. Broadly speaking, the mass tourism model propagated on the most accessible coastal regions of the world—particularly those visited by European and North American travelers—has been challenged by this alternative model.
Still, the mass tourism model has its advocates, in Mexico as in other parts of the world, and creeps into the planning models of destinations where sustainable development is the nominal platform. This happens because for at least half a century the notion of success or failure in tourism development has been defined according to this older model. If WWF is to have an effective strategy for conservation in the GOC region, then a clear definition of competitiveness vis a vis sustainability must be established.
Those words opened the first draft of a report submitted four years ago .
The report was titled Opportunities and Threats Related to Sustainable Tourism and Residential Development in Mexico’s Gulf Of California Region: Recommendations for an Effective Strategic Plan and I coauthored it with colleagues from Australia who had considerable experience dealing with some of the same issues facing the GOC marine ecosystem.
I just took a look at that first draft to remember what I was thinking then, at the peak of a bubble that has now burst. The speculative real estate scourge, which fed off the toxic finance bubble north of the border, was putting Mexico’s most spectacular natural wonder (and one of the most important marine biodiversity hotspots on the planet) at risk. The economic crisis that followed that report, for all the pain and suffering it has caused (do not mistake this observation as a celebration), has had at least one important positive outcome: speculators have backed off from this peninsula.
I write this post at dawn in Loreto, and this snapshot captures a palpable feeling in this region. I was invited to return here to look at four properties–representing several tens of thousands of acres of coastal lands– that might be appropriate for our model of entrepreneurial conservation. It is a new day here in every sense.
Hope is in the air.