Mexico’s first inclusive beach town of Cuastecomates has received the praise of disabled tourists and their families, but some locals feel not all are welcome.
Located two kilometers off federal highway 200 on the Pacific coast of Jalisco, Cuastecomates is a small town, described by the newspaper El Universal as having only six blocks and five streets.
A sign at the entrance of the town proudly announces that Cuastecomates is “the first inclusive beach of the Pacific.”
While the concept of inclusive beaches exists already in the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, the Jalisco town is the first to have been completely renovated.
Those renovations — valued at 47 million pesos — started in 2015, and included the installation of underground utility wires, as well as the replacement of the sewage network.
Once work under the streets of Cuastecomates was complete, sidewalks and pedestrian crosswalks were equipped with tactile paving and Braille was added to street signs and tourist maps.
Traffic and information signs throughout the town inform visitors of the accessibility for disabled people, who can enjoy the complete length of the beach from a wooden deck.
The two hotels in town offer 110 rooms, of which 27 have been adapted to receive disabled guests. There’s also an emergency medical care unit at the ready.
One family with a disabled child had visited the beach town before the renovations, and found that the new infrastructure was of great help for disabled people, who are given a chance to enjoy the sea.
“All beaches should be like this, because it’s easier for all to get in,” said the child’s father.
A couple travelled 350 kilometers from the state capital, Guadalajara, bringing a relative. Ofelia Isabel Cardona had a leg amputated five years ago and had thought she would never get the chance to go into the water again.
The town offers amphibian vehicles to rent that make it easy for disabled people to traverse the beach and enter the water.
But street vendors, located on the wooden walkway, lament that since the renovations were concluded tourist numbers have plunged.
One said that every week three or four buses arrive at one of the hotels. But since the resort is all-inclusive, the guests don’t leave the premises.
However, the worst issue is that no street parking is available, she added. “All spaces are labeled as exclusively for disabled. If anyone else parks there they are fined by the traffic police.”
El Universal counted about 30 street parking spots throughout the town, all for disabled only. The only other option is a private lot where motorists must pay between 50 and 80 pesos per day.
“Many people have come since the inclusive beach designation, but when they find no parking they turn around and opt to go to Melaque or Barra de Navidad instead,” added another vendor.
“I estimate that only two out of every 10 cars that drive into town decide to stay,” he said.
A restaurateur shares the street vendors’ opinions. “It doesn’t seem so inclusive now because they didn’t think about non-disabled people, who have no place to leave their cars. Also, the place needs more promotion.”
“Another thing is those beach cars for rent. They are not available at the beach, so people have to walk to the town’s entrance. If they don’t ask around, they don’t even realize the service is available,” he said.
Source: El Universal (sp)