TULUM, Mexico – As Tulum continues to be at the forefront of strategic projects such as the Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport, the Maya Train, and the Jaguar Park, activists and experts in the social, economic, and environmental sectors have emphasized the pressing need to enhance services and infrastructure in the region.
David Ortiz Mena, President of the Tulum Hotel Association (AHT), noted that Tulum has experienced significant growth since its inception as a tourist destination, often achieving double-digit increases. He pointed out that this growth is undoubtedly linked to large-scale projects like the Maya Train, Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport, and the Jaguar Park.
Currently, there are just over 10,800 hotel rooms in Tulum, and this number has already been surpassed by vacation rental platform registrations. Each registration often represents more than a single hotel room. Ortiz stressed that Tulum’s infrastructure is currently limited and must be expanded to accommodate the growing number of visitors.
Furthermore, Tulum boasts one of the most visited archaeological sites in the country and will be a key stop along the Maya Train route.
Regarding the Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport, it is anticipated that there will be flights to Mexico City with two daily frequencies by Aeroméxico, as well as flights to both Mexico City airports, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Tijuana by Viva Aerobus. The Tijuana route is particularly intriguing, as it is expected to attract foreign tourists due to its proximity to the California border.
Ortiz stressed the importance of developing the necessary infrastructure to accommodate this influx of visitors, especially considering the pressing issue of housing in Tulum. Currently, there are 46,000 inhabitants for budgetary purposes, but 7,500 families reside in irregular settlements.
He noted that vacation rentals have contributed to a scarcity of housing for locals and emphasized the need to strengthen the police force, ensuring that officers are well-trained and equipped for their duties.
Karla Acevedo, responsible for the Tulum Sustainable Cooperative, expressed that these strategic projects, under construction for the past couple of years, must be accompanied by improvements in infrastructure. This is essential not only for newcomers but also for the thousands of people who already live in the municipal seat and its communities.
Acevedo highlighted the significant backlog in services, especially in terms of drinking water and drainage. She pointed out that the planning and execution of the Water and Sewerage Commission (CAPA) remain insufficient for the urban area, existing developments, and those still under construction.
The issue of water is critical due to the vulnerability of the aquifer, with reports of contamination in some cenotes. Acevedo called for more orderly planning and the integration of services with construction permits.
She also emphasized the need to consider innovative technologies, particularly in areas lacking sewage infrastructure. Many residents are not connected to wastewater disposal systems.
Tulum lacks a comprehensive municipal waste management program, resulting in the daily arrival of tons of waste at the landfill. Given the unique characteristics of the area’s soil, opening new landfill cells is unsustainable.
Acevedo stressed the importance of reducing the arrival of recyclable waste and promoting recycling and recovery efforts. She highlighted the potential benefits of the ongoing projects, which could bring economic growth to the area. She hopes that this economic boost will translate into improved services, better planning, public green spaces, and orderly cooperation among various institutions for more structured development.
Alejandro Torres Perera, a pioneering tour guide in Tulum, has noticed significant changes in his tourism-related environment. Modifications, such as the demolition of inadequate restrooms, are underway at the archaeological site’s entrance. These changes suggest the possible establishment of federal government offices, including the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa), the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (Conanp), and potentially the Ministry of Tourism.
Despite the Maya Train station being 4 kilometers from the archaeological site’s entrance, a twofold or even threefold increase in visitors to the walled city is anticipated.
“As all these projected changes begin to take shape, we must adapt,” Torres Perera emphasized.