Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Magical Town imposes controls on visitor numbers to avoid saturation

Like many popular locations in this post-COVID summer, the Magical Town of Real de Catorce in the state of San Luis Potosí has been inundated with tourists and is now putting measures into place to keep the numbers of visitors from getting out of control.

Mayor Guadalupe Carrillo said the town only has space for 1,000 vehicles and that once they reach that limit, city workers stand at the town’s entrance to tell drivers that the city is full and that they can no longer enter. Some visitors are so desperate not to change their weekend plans that they wait at the town’s border for cars to leave.

The nearly 1,000 residents of Real de Catorce — named a Pueblo Mágico in 2001 — have long been accustomed to receiving both Catholic and Huichol pilgrims, but those previous visitors have been dwarfed by the new surge of tourists to this tiny mountain town. What was for years a ghost town has become a draw for domestic and international tourists that come to experience the town’s lost-in-time quality and reputed spiritual energy.

During the low-season months of May and June, the city welcomed around 6,000 visitors each weekend, but now that summer vacation is in full swing, they are seeing visitor numbers between 10,000 and 12,000. Currently, tourists can wait hours to enter.

cars lined up outside Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosi
Cars of visitors are often lined up waiting to enter Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí.

While municipal officials have entertained creating another entrance, they’ve discarded the idea for the time being because officials are limited by the town’s historical status. Also, such a project would require an environmental impact study and negotiations with local indigenous groups first.

They also worry that providing for many visitors poses the danger of exhausting the town’s services and the cobblestone streets that run its length.

With reports from El Universal de San Luis Potosí and El Sol de San Luis

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