A battle is brewing over public access to beaches in Quintana Roo.
The federal office of maritime land zones (Zofemat) will launch legal action against large hotel chains that refuse to open up access to the Caribbean coastline, director Rodrigo Hernández Aguilar told a press conference.
If hotels fail to comply with orders to grant public access to beaches they could be demolished, he warned. The Zofemat chief said that access to between 90% and 95% of beaches in Quintana Roo is obstructed. Under Mexican law, all beaches are federal zones and must be accessible to the public.
The legal action against hotels, many of which belong to Spanish-owned chains, is part of the government program known as the National Movement for the Recovery of Public Accesses to Beaches, Hernández said.
One hotel project in the Puerto Juárez area of Cancún has already been demolished because it would have blocked public access to the beach.
“We demolished the project because it was obstructing the federal zone,” Hernández said. “. . . We’re going to continue battle by battle . . .”
He said that the Spanish-owned Palladium Hotel Group, which is building a new property that will block access to the Chacmuchuc beach in the municipality of Isla Mujeres, is one of the chains that will face legal action.
“. . . They come to Mexico to do what they wouldn’t dream of doing in Spain, where they couldn’t close a beach and if they tried there would be an energetic and historic protest,” Hernández said.
“Why do they come here to do what they don’t do there? Investment is welcome but they have to include the coastal communities and Mexicans [in their plans].”
Hernández issued a “friendly call” to Quintana Roo Governor Carlos Joaquín to visit Zofemat to contribute to the beach access recovery plan. His support, the federal official said, will be important to resolve beach access issues in Playa del Carmen, Akumal, Chemuyil and Tulum.
“I especially want to request his support to open public access . . . at Punta Venado beach [in Playa del Carmen], Hernández said.
The Zofemat director said that public access in beaches in Quintana Roo had been restricted due to corrupt dealings between past governments and a number of hotel groups.