TULUM, Mexico – The arrival of Diego Castañón Trejo as the municipal president of Tulum has brought a sigh of relief to the local hotel industry. They are now witnessing the realization of long-standing requests that were stagnant in previous administrations.
David Ortiz Mena, President of the Tulum Hotel Association, expressed this sentiment during an interview. When asked about their perception of Diego Castañón’s management of Tulum, he stated, “We have been able to work closely with him, and it seems that he not only understands that Tulum is a tourist municipality but also comprehends the requirements for the prosperity of tourism. One significant achievement is that we are on the verge of finalizing the trust that will manage the funds generated from the environmental sanitation fee. It may sound simple, but this is an area where we couldn’t make progress with previous administrations.”
When asked about their overall approval of Castañón’s performance, Ortiz Mena noted, “Let’s remember that he has been in office for a relatively short time in a municipality as complex as Tulum. Tulum has faced longstanding issues, not only as a municipality but also as a tourist destination. The growth here has been far greater than what sustainability can accommodate. We have a budget based on a population of 46,000, which is undoubtedly insufficient for the demands of this thriving municipality. However, I am confident that the municipal president is doing everything in his power to propose solutions. These are age-old problems that take time to rectify, and we, as private individuals, also have a role to play. We are transitioning from criticism to sharing and assuming our responsibility in addressing these various issues, contributing as much as we can to improve security through the environmental sanitation fee and the establishment of the trust, striving to enhance sustainability in the municipality.”
About the current challenges in Tulum, Ortiz Mena pointed out, “We have significant challenges. For instance, there are over 7,500 families living in irregular conditions. We also have what we call a landfill, which is more like an open dump and needs to be remediated. Interestingly, it is located closer to the future Tulum International Airport than the norm allows, so it must be closed, and a proper landfill established. These issues have existed since the inception of Tulum, and I hope that with the current municipal president and, more importantly, the interest the federal government is showing in structural projects in Tulum, we can finally see lasting solutions.”
Regarding the issue of vacation rentals in Tulum, Ortiz Mena noted, “Tulum has over eleven thousand registered vacation rental platforms, a significant number that already surpasses the available hotel rooms. It’s worth considering that one vacation rental registration often includes multiple rooms. In the case of the Mexican Caribbean, vacation rental platforms now exceed fifty thousand registrations, and they do not contribute to the environmental sanitation fee. Hence, there is a need to ensure that this sector genuinely contributes to the sustainability of our destinations.”
On the potential challenge to the environmental fee, Ortiz Mena stated, “First, I would like to delve deeper into the verdict. It’s not entirely clear to me whether it was an individual or a hotel that filed this challenge. However, I believe that, for the most part, hoteliers are in favor of the environmental sanitation fee, provided there are legal structures in place to ensure that these funds are used for their intended purpose: advancing the sustainability of our destinations. In the specific case of Tulum, as I mentioned earlier, we are making progress with the municipal administration towards the establishment of a trust. To date, Tulum is practically the only coastal municipality with such a fee that does not have a trust to manage and administer these resources. We need to focus on collecting them, yes, but also on guaranteeing that they are genuinely applied to sustainability.”
Tulum’s hotel industry is cautiously optimistic about the changes and improvements brought about by the current municipal administration under the leadership of Diego Castañón Trejo. With ongoing collaboration and a focus on sustainability, they hope to address long-standing challenges and ensure the continued growth and prosperity of this vibrant tourist destination.