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The archaeological site at Palenque, which had been slated to become one of three sustainable tourism centers. The archaeological site at Palenque, where one of three sustainable tourism centers was to be located.

Budget cuts halted plans for three sustainable tourism projects

Special centers in cultural destinations were intended to diversify Mexico's tourist attractions

The Enrique Peña Nieto government’s ambitious plan to develop sustainable tourist centers in cultural destinations failed to materialize after the Finance Secretariat allocated only a fraction of the required funds due to budget cuts.

Designed by the national tourism fund Fonatur in 2014 to boost the diversification of the country’s tourism sector and to reposition the country on the international stage, the three centers were to be located in Teotihuacán, México state; Palenque, Chiapas; and Chichén Itzá, Yucatán.

Developing the centers had been estimated to cost 7.8 billion pesos (US $492 million in 2015) but not even the first stage of the project, identifying the land on which they would be located, was allocated the 147 million pesos required.

The first stage at Chichén Itzá was to cost 42 million pesos but only 8.4 million was allocated. Palenque required the same amount, but it was granted just 6.6 million, while 8.7 million was allocated to Teotihuacán of the 55 million needed.

The centers at Palenque and Teotihuacán required 1,000 hectares and that at Chichén Itzá, 1,046.

The initiative was intended to diversify tourism beyond the beach destinations where most is concentrated.

In the end, the federal Finance Secretariat only allocated 23.8 million of the 147 million requested by Fonatur between 2015 and 2016, which was not enough to perform the required environmental studies and assessments, said Fonatur in response to an access of information request filed by the newspaper Milenio.

The agency added that those funds remain in its coffers unspent.

The spending cuts came in 2015 and also scotched plans to build a high-speed passenger train between Mexico City and Querétaro.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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