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Miguel Torruco will be Mexico's next tourism secretary. Miguel Torruco will be Mexico's next tourism secretary.

No grandiose projects; magical towns to be reviewed: new tourism secretary

Tourism projects already under way will be completed

Finishing projects that are already under way, reviewing programs currently in place and not undertaking new, grandiose ventures will be among the tourism priorities of the next federal government, according to the man who will be Mexico’s new tourism secretary.

Miguel Torruco Marqués told the newspaper Milenio that the incoming administration won’t discard projects currently in progress, citing the large-scale mixed tourism and residential development at Playa Espíritu in Sinaloa and the Escalera Nautica or “Nautical Staircase” marina project in Baja California.

“There won’t be grandiose projects that remain unfinished,” he said, adding that the government will seek to ensure that both visitors and residents benefit from tourism-oriented projects.

Torruco also said that he will carry out an “exhaustive review” of the Pueblos Mágicos (Magical Towns) scheme, charging that its rules and objectives had become unclear under the prior government.

“We have to remember that in the last six months of the previous [Felipe Calderón-led] administration, they started to hand out magical town designations as gifts. We have to be realistic, a town that enters into the program should have certain characteristics and commitments,” he said.

There are now 111 pueblos mágicos in Mexico, a number that has grown rapidly in recent years and led to claims that the scheme is more about politics than tourism and that a magical designation comes down to negotiations between state governors and federal authorities, with money being the main motivator.

Torruco said that in order for a new town to be awarded magical town status, it must not only meet certain requirements that make it worthy of the name but also that agreements with municipal, state and federal authorities as well as the private sector must be in place to ensure that it is funded and developed as it should be.

The incoming secretary cited San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas as an example of a destination that received the magical town destination but subsequently failed to meet the objectives of the scheme due to a lack of funding.

Meanwhile, the president of the Association of Hotels of Cancún and Puerto Morelos said that there was confidence in the sector that Torruco would attend to the problems that the tourism industry faces.

Roberto Cintrón Gómez identified the recovery of beaches in Quintana Roo, including the removal of sargassum, as a priority.

He also said that during a visit to the Caribbean coast state in May, Torruco said that diversifying the tourism market to avoid over-dependence on United States visitors would continue to be a priority for the next government.

Miguel Ángel Lemus Mateos, vice-president of the state’s branch of the Business Coordinating Council (CCE), which organized a May 5 forum Torruco attended, said the next tourism secretary had made an assurance that tourism would be a national priority for an Andrés Manuel López Obrador-led government.

At that forum, the future secretary said he was committed to stamping out corruption in the tourism secretariat and implementing cost-cutting measures such as eliminating first-class travel for high-ranking officials.

“There will be a platform that allows [tourism sector] tenders to be seen in real time in order to avoid all kinds of corruption. We will continue to have the same budget at Sectur [the Secretariat of Tourism] but there is going to be a salary reduction for those at the top to increase salaries for those at the bottom,” Torruco said.

Source: Milenio (sp), El Economista (sp)

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