INTRODUCTION AND DEFINITIONS 1. 1 – INTRODUCTION international tourism is playing an increasingly important role in the world economy, and is progressively being adopted by many Third World countries striving for development. Faced with the severe restrictions of underdevelopment, the decision to encourage tourism is being made more and more by Third World governments. In studying the wide ramifications tourism has on the areas and people concerned, it is feasible to analyze its success in the Third World as a development strategy. As a relatively new phenomenon, the literature is continually expanding, as more areas of this field are developed and more studies are carried out. The aims of this piece of work therefore, are to study the growth of tourism as a means of development in the Third World, considering current literature; to study the ways in which the chosen case study of Oaxaca State, Mexico is approaching its rapidly growing tourist industry; to collect information on tourism in Oaxaca, both in and out of the field; to analyze the information in a suitable way so as to ascertain if tourism is the best agent for development for Oaxaca, and hence the Third World.
My choice to carry out a dissertation on an aspect of Third World development was made as this is where my main interests lie within geography and it would very much complement other courses. My choice of Mexico came about due to my knowledge of Spanish and also due to a useful contact I had in Oaxaca. In addition to this, I am very interested in this increased pattern of tourism as a strategy for development in the Third World. Chapter 2 will introduce tourism as an global industry and indicate its growing importance in Third World countries. With reference to the current literature in this field, the economic, social and environmental impacts of tourism on these countries will be discussed, which form the basis o any discussion on successes or failures in the industry.
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In Chapter 3, the methodologies are laid out, leading into Chapter 4, the case study. After a brief introduction to Oaxaca State, tourism in two specific regions is described, establishing the methods used to attract tourists. In Chapter 5, an attempt is made to determine the successes of these methods, and finally in Chapter 6, a conclusion is sought as to whether tourism is a legitimate strategy for development, in Oaxaca and hence in the Third World. 1. 2 – DEFINITIONS A few clarifications are first necessary, as words or concepts, such as tourism, Third World and development, are often taken for granted but can, however be defined in various different ways depending on the context in which they are used. Tourism is generally understood as a temporary, voluntary movement of people, travelling to a chosen destination outside of their normal places of work and residence for pleasure, business or education (fundamentally pleasure).
The trip is a non-recurrent round-trip, the duration ranging between a few days and a year. The concept of the Third World also causes confusion. Since the 1950’s, the term has been used to define, .”.. those nations apparently outside the First (advanced-capitalist) and Second (state-socialist) Worlds. ‘Third World’ is a loose term which is frequently used even more loosely to denote underdeveloped countries… especially those in Latin America, Africa and Asia.” (Johnston, 1994, p.
623) In this study, this definition is satisfactory, although it must not be ignored that this characterisation is no longer so simple, with the emergence of Newly Industrializing Countries (NIC’s) and the dynamism of the global economic order. The notion of the Third World implies separation between the different Worlds and between countries, but such clear-cut boundaries are misleading; even on a smaller, say national scale, such divisions are not so straightforward. Thus, however ambiguous a definition, the term ‘Third World’ is used as a euphemism for the Developing World, the Less Developed Countries (LDC’s), those portraying many characteristics of poverty, debt, hunger, malnutrition, poorly developed economies, low levels of education, high percentage of rural agriculture, rapid urban growth and high population growth. Finally, a more in depth consideration is necessary to determine the, “most slippery concept of all,” (Lea, 1988, p. 4) that is the notion of development. The focus of this work is ‘tourism as a strategy for development’, thus it is essential to define development, in order to determine whether tourism is achieving this developed state that it’s supposedly striving for.
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No single term can define absolutely the developmental condition of a country or region, since it is a complex economic, social and political phenomenon. The conceptual meaning of development has been fragmented and re-defined for over a century and still displays ambiguity and causes confusion. From environmental determinism and development being fundamentally evolutionary in the nineteenth century, to the theories of modernisation being the paradigm of the mid-twentieth century. This conviction was that the apex of development was the Western lifestyle, that development was copying and catching up with the West. The 1960’s saw the advancement of the theories of underdevelopment, built on Marxist thought that imperialism, as a result of the capitalist system, causes a concentration and centralisation of capital and therefore uneven development in the world. Expanding on this, Andre Under Frank in his Theory of Third World Dependency, believed that the development of the Third World countries would only be possible if they disconnected from the global economy and pursued their own national strategies of import-substitution, in order to meet local needs from local resources, and in turn break the chain of interdependency.
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Since the 1970’s, the ideas of these theorists of development have been, “refined, revised and in many cases, rejected, ” (Cor bridge, 1991 p. 17), but all different views tend to be accepted as paradigms of their generations. In current studies, the whole issue of development in the Third World seems to deal out less blame; to generalize less about whole regions, move away from grand theories, considering specific problems in specific places; not to reject the idea of core-periphery co-operation and not to ignore capitalist development as a possibility in some areas of the Third World. This new outlook is altering the meaning of development to the academic and the criteria by which development is defined. The dominating view in the past, was that development was synonymous with economic development.
This idea has been updated and many other aspects are now considered as essential for development. The World Development Report (1991) defines development as, .”.. a sustainable increase in living standards that encompass material consumption, education, health and environmental protection. ” (p.
31) Currently, it is being considered in a broader sense and there is a tendency to include other important and related aspects, such as, .”.. more equality of opportunity, political freedom and civil liberties. The overall goal of development is therefore to increase the economic, political and civil rights of all people across gender, ethnic groups, religions, races, regions and countries.” (World Development Report, 1991, p. 31) In short, definitions of development today encompass a wider range of social and environmental criteria, as well as economic. It is evident therefore, that the whole concept of development, with its definitions, theoretical approaches and indicators in the past and present, is a complex and ambiguous field of study, one large enough itself to comprise an entire dissertation. However, in this context, it will be taken for granted that the Third World aspires to develop, economically and socially, (although this in itself is a contentious issue) and an attempt will be made later on, to determine whether tourism is a successful agent in this process for the Third World, and specifically Oaxaca State, Mexico.
CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW 2. 1 – INTERNATIONAL TOURISM International tourism is a growing global business. In general, people in the Developed World have more leisure time and disposable income at hand, so more people are travelling. Tourism is now the third largest item in world trade (Harrison, 1994, p. 232) and is distinguishable from other industries for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is an invisible export industry where there is no tangible product, and the consumer personally collects the product from the place of production.
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As a result, no direct transportation costs exist outside the destination’s boundaries, except where transportation is owned by the destination, which is rare due to the importance of Transnational Corporations (TNC’s) and international airlines. Secondly, the destination areas require the provision of goods and services necessary in the industry, such as the relevant infrastructure and retail functions. Thirdly, tourism is integrated into other parts of the economy directly, through hotels, restaurants, etc. and indirectly, through tax revenues and an expansion in community services, for example.
Finally, tourism is a very unstable export – it is very influenced by unforeseen external events, such as climatic events, natural disasters, political unrest, or changes in international currency rates. This volatility means potential visitors are quick to abandon formerly popular destinations because of threats to health and safety, such as Beirut and Greece or more recently India, Turkey or Japan; also people’s diverse expectations means the likelihood of people only visiting a destination once; and finally its seasonal variation means sufficient income must be earned during the high season to sustain the low season. 2. 2 – TOURISM IN THE THIRD WORLD Turner (1976) has described international tourism as, .”.. the most promising, complex and under-studied industry impinging on the Third World.” (p. 253) Tourism in developing countries is a relatively new activity and it is only since the late 1960’s that the industry has appeared alongside other, more traditional activities, in the literature, as a process of development.
Krause & Jud (1973) see, .”.. mankind’s unending search for exotic and colorful (sic) places,” (p. ix) as a powerful lure to developing countries. Turner identifies the pleasure periphery as a band of host countries, .”.. stretching from Mexico, through Florida and the Caribbean, to the Mediterranean; from Beirut through East Africa, the Seychelles, and India to Bali and Bangkok in South East Asia; through Pacific Islands like Fiji, Tahiti and Hawaii, back to Southern California and Mexico.” (1976, p. 253) The tourism in this band is not just confined to these regions and the belt affected is always expanding.
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As more of Latin America, Africa and Asia are attracting more visitors; more impoverished regions are turning to tourism as a primary path to development; more leisure time and income are becoming available; a reduction in the price of long haul flights; and ‘mankind’ continues to discover new destinations. It was in the 1950’s and 1960’s, that a number of LDC’s, such as Greece, Spain and Mexico, as well as several East African and South East Asian destinations became popular with travellers. In the 1970’s, more competition between destinations meant the growth of tourism elsewhere, in North Africa, the Far East and islands in the Caribbean and the Seychelles. Despite the oil crisis and rise in air transport prices in the early 1970’s, and hence the slump in the world economy, international tourism as an industry has been gradually establishing itself worldwide. Industrialisation is commonly considered the most successful means for development. However, many LDC’s are limited by various factors, such as small domestic markets, barriers to an increase in exports of manufactured goods and a scarcity of foreign-exchange earnings for industrial expansion.
Hence, as a result of slow or no progress, alternative means to development are being sought. Faced with rapid population growth, high unemployment, an uneven distribution of property, land and incomes, dependence upon agriculture for income and occupation, tourism is seen as the ideal solution for the Third World. 2. 3 – IMPACTS OF TOURISM These can be divided into economic, social / cultural and environmental / physical . Initially, the most important aspect to Third World governments, when making decisions on tourist development, is its economic impacts. However, since the 1970’s, work has moved further and many studies have shown a veer towards not simply explaining the location and characteristics of this international tourism, but also the extent to which its ramifications affect the areas and people concerned, economically, socially and physically.
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ECONOMIC IMPACTS Predominantly, it is the economic benefits that are more conspicuous and have been the focus of most earlier work (Pearce, 1981, p. 1, p. 43), although recently, the costs too are being made apparent. Tourism is a popular incentive for development in Third World countries due to its ability to provide hard currency and so expand foreign exchange earnings, in turn improving the balance of payments situation. Although tourism does produce an obvious increase in overseas earnings, financial resources for development and a substantial rise in incomes of people employed in the tourist industry directly and indirectly, there is also the increase in inflation and land values to consider. Tourism creates an incentive for improving or building infrastructure, airports, roads, sanitation facilities and social services for example.
However, the cost of upgrading these facilities is very high for developing countries, and is not likely to be financed by developed countries without there being some kind of obligation to pay back the favour. This enhances the view of neo-capitalist exploitation. As a labour-intensive service industry, tourism is a major generator of employment, providing opportunities in hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, entertainment facilities and in the building of this infrastructure. In developing countries, where there are high levels of semi-skilled and unskilled unemployed and underemployed people, the industry is important as it can utilize these labour resources from the traditional sector of the economy with little or no training. However, Gray (1974) sees tourism’s use of a large proportion of unskilled labour as only a temporary phase in the development of the industry – as tourism grows, it may become reliant on higher skilled labour, which will inherently mean training those available, or more commonly importing them from elsewhere, which is detrimental to the destination. In addition, the few managerial and top level administrative jobs required will most likely be filled by people from the Developed World, in the case of international hotels, for example.
In addition, the seasonal nature of tourist employment demands adequate earning and budgeting to ensure survival through low season. In general, however, there will be an overall encouragement of entrepreneurial activity, and gradual shift away from traditional to more advanced activity, thus enhancing economic development. All of the above factors, such as employment, income, output and the balance of payments have been caused by a change in the level of tourism expenditure and in turn, creating multiplier effects. Tourist spending on accommodation, transport, food, souvenirs etc. generate income, part of which will leak out of the economy through imports, taxes and savings. The rest will become secondary spending in the economy, thus generating more income.
This process of re-spending of incomes, thereby creating additional incomes, is known as the multiplier effect. Tourism is traditionally seen as a tool for regional development. In Myrdal’s Model of Circular and Cumulative Causation (1957), he saw economic development within a country as a natural process. He states that as an industry develops it experiences multiplier effects of improved linkages, communications, infrastructure and services, causing the developing zone to prosper. Its backwash effects being detrimental to the surrounding area, causing imbalances in the region. In time, Myrdal describes the Equalisation Stage where a downward movement of wealth and technology enables the economy to expand in surrounding areas, gradually closing the gap between the two areas.
Although Myrdal’s Model was not strictly created for the tourist industry, it can be applied, as with any other industry. The reasons for tourist growth in one specific area, its initial advantage, vary immensely from area to area, from ‘sunlust’ to ‘wanderlust’ destinations. As the area increases in popularity, its infrastructure, services and linkages are improved and the industry grows and prospers to the detriment of the surrounding area. In time, when the growth spreads from core to periphery, this outer region develops, either by expanding its own tourist industry or by becoming supplier of raw materials, goods, arts and crafts, in the case of tourism, to the core, (although this may have been happening all the time during the growth of the core).
So, the impact of a growth in tourism in an area not only affects the area immediately concerned, it also has different implications for the surrounding area. Finally, a major cost to a region of the Developing World is the danger of overdependence – firstly, on one product – ie.
tourism and the increased pressure to import, and secondly, overdependence on external powers. In the Third World, tourism is an industry that is dominated by foreign capital and so any decisions made by non-nationals and non-residents may clash or conflict with national objectives, but often there is no way out of this situation. SOCIAL IMPACTS The social impacts of tourism have largely been ignored in past studies, but are currently being appreciated for their importance. Unlike other export industries, the consumer has to travel to the area of production in order to consume the product.
In addition, this producer-consumer is different to most exchange relations as they meet and therefore interact person to person. This confrontation creates the social impact and concerns the tourist, the host and the tourist-host interrelationships. Most research has been carried out on the latter two categories. The social and cultural impacts are the way in which tourism alters behaviour, value systems, family relationships, lifestyles and community organizations. (Mathieson & Wall, 1982) Tourism can be potentially beneficial to the tourist socially as it broadens their interests, triggering an improved understanding of the unknown, the alien, and the cultures and lifestyles of others, displaying a positive demonstration effect. Alternatively, a negative demonstration effect can result as the guest-host relationship becomes a customer-seller one.
Tourism can then have a corrosive effect on the culture and value systems of the host. “When a country opens doors to international tourism, its traditions (however marketable) are going to be changed, if not threatened.” (Harrison, 1992, p. 162) The Third World becomes exposed to the West and subject to some of its bad traits, such as crime, prostitution and gambling. It should not be forgotten however, that new knowledge and technology are filtered to the Third World, although it is contentious as to whether this new learning is advantageous. The host area can then become not a new and different world to explore, learn from and enjoy, but a similar world at a different locality. In the words of Mathieson & Wall, (1982) ‘euphoria’ becomes ‘xenophobia’, as tourism in the Third World becomes justifiably labelled as a new form of imperialism.
“Tourism feeds on the colonial impulse. Part of the appeal, the ‘frisson’, of travelling to strange lands is the opportunity that it may afford to patronize the poor native unfortunates who may know no better way of life than that of their homeland. Tourism, in many ways, is a sort of neo-colonialism.” (Boniface & Fowler, 1993, p. 19) ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS The physical environment constitutes the basis of much tourist development, as it is largely the fragile environment that attracts the tourists, for example, coastal, alpine or historical areas (Pearce, 1989).
Until the mid 1980’s, studies on the physical impact of tourism had been few. Parallel to an increased environmental awareness recently, it has been widely accepted that a growth in tourism will inevitably result in modifications of the environment. As this is still a new area of study, research is sparse and uneven, for example, much work has been carried out on the impact on wildlife and vegetation, but not on soils, air and water quality; on Britain and North America but not on LDC’s; on specific ecosystems such as coastlines, mountains and small islands but not on man-made environments (Pearce, 1981, p. 46).
Most studies concentrate on the environmental costs, such as the alteration of the landscape, congestion in peak seasons, the detrimental effect on wildlife, air and water as a result of the inevitable urban sprawl. However, few though they are, there are environmental benefits of tourism, such as the increased infrastructure for whole communities, the opening up of new areas to enhance people’s appreciation of the environment and widening their frames of references.
There has always been conflict between conservation and development, and as tourism develops, the environmental impact and resultant landscape change will rise in importance in tourism studies. Irrespective of how much information there is in the literature on each economic, social and environmental impacts of tourism and of how much this chapter has detailed each of them, all three are acknowledged as important and it is appreciated that they have a symbiotic relationship and therefore the division between the groups is not so unequivocal than is often suggested. As tourist development in the Third World is such a prevailing and accepted area of study, the research and literature is becoming more substantial. 2.
4 – MEXICO – AN INTRODUCTION Mexico is a land of extraordinary diversity (Lonely Planet Publications, 1992, p. 9).
Thousands of years ago, home to some of the most advanced civilisations, the destination of Hern n Cortez in the early sixteenth century and the scene of endless conflicting cultures and politics. After Independence, years of instability and with the economy in serious decline, the oppressed fought back. The Mexican Revolution (1910-1917), marked the end of dictatorship and established the base for the new political and economic progress to come. This new era saw land reform, peasants active in the political system for the first time and unprecedented economic growth and modernisation.
The ‘Mexican Miracle’ of 1930-1965 saw Mexico’s agriculture rise by 5 % per year (Townsend, 1992, p. 9), development of its oil resources to its rise as an NIC, to the importance of manufacturing exports and now services replacing agriculture as the main form of employment, the changes shaped by policies designed to protect Mexico from the US. Economic problems culminated (a slip in oil prices, devaluation of the peso and stagnation of foreign capital, Barry, 1992, p. 76) and after the debt crisis in 1982, the need for reform was obvious.
Rapid economic recovery took place in the late 1980’s, as import substitution, which was successful between 1940 and 1970, was increasingly replaced by export orientated development, as policies attempted to take Mexico into the world economy, particularly into the US. The structure of politics in Mexico has remained the same since the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) led the way out of the Revolution in 1917. However, during this time, the character and methods of different ruling parties has altered along the political spectrum. Although having decreased, allegations of fraud are still widespread in elections and the strength of the opposition still poses a threat, 77 years on.
The growth from “bust to boom” (Whitehead, cited by Sheahan, 1987, p. 302) opened up the economy, but has had dire social and environmental effects. Mexico is a deeply divided country, there exists great social and economic polarization within all regions, but real overall contrasts between North and South. The North is more prosperous overall, compared to the South where most of the indigenous population live, with much intractable poverty. Most investment and development has been centred along the 2000 mile border with the US, and on joining NAFTA, surely the gap will widen as more jobs and wealth are created in the North Full economic recovery, therefore depends on the strength of the domestic market, as wages and living standards are declining. Population has risen from approximately 25 million in the 1950’s to nearly 90 million in the early 1990’s (Barry, 1992, p.
During industrialisation, urban development was encouraged (the urban population rose from 40 % in the 1950’s to 72 % in the 1990’s, Barry, 1992, p. xix), and currently the environmental effects of this rapid growth are being felt. Mexico City has become one of the world’s largest and most polluted cities, and may be uninhabitable in mere decades (Barry, 1992, p. xx).
All of the above are issues the country has to deal with delicately in the future – the land and its people are at stake.
In a country where the majority, the poor, feel isolated from the new free market reforms, and in a country where disgruntled peasant uprisings caused years of bloody and prolonged Revolution (Sheahan, 1987, p. 271), it is essential that the inequalities are addressed carefully and subsequently reduced. In addition to Mexico’s traditional sources of wealth – mining, fishing, agriculture and modern manufacturing industries, services and now tourism are becoming increasingly important for the country. With its inexhaustible attractions, Mexico is using its cultures, cuisines, handicrafts, architecture, art and history to lure visitors, together with its varying natural landscapes of deserts, mountains, jungles and beaches. Its great diversity being perhaps what attracts so many people – in providing something for everyone. METHODOLOGY 3.
1 – METHODOLOGY The use of a suitable methodology is essential in all fields of study. The importance of a relevant method of data collection should be understood as this will lead to the simplest interpretation of information and hence accuracy of results, so as to achieve a full understanding of a topic. In the case of undertaking a geography dissertation on foreign soils, especially in a country so different, where attitudes, morals, and cultures are so assorted, careful planning is crucial. It is difficult to anticipate what the response will be like, full co-operation cannot be taken for granted and it is vital to respect the informants and their way of life, so as not to appear patronizing.
The methods used to study tourism vary greatly, in this case based on participant observation, statistical, theoretical and attitudinal information – from primary and secondary sources, qualitative and quantitative. Extensive reading and research was carried out in preparation for the field trip on tourism and development in the Third World and familiarizing myself with the Mexican scene – history, economy, politics, the people and their way of life. I contacted the Mexican Embassy and the Latin American Bureau in London, together with various travel agencies to obtain any additional information on the topic not available in libraries. In addition, a questionnaire was designed to obtain attitudinal material, which is as essential as numeric data in this study.
In this case, two different questionnaires were asked in two localities – 15 to residents and 15 to visitors in Oaxaca City and similarly, 15 to residents and 15 to visitors in Puerto Escondido – a total of 60. Although seemingly quite a small sample, this is adequate as it is the general opinions that are important here, the quality and not the quantity. The design of each questionnaire is such that a variety of factual and attitudinal questions were asked, opinions of both resident and visitor are essential in this study. It must be acknowledged that there are problems faced when preparing and carrying out this type of survey.
As the questionnaires were specifically directed at two groups of people, the sampling method was not random. It was necessary to ask resident questionnaires to employees in hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. , those evidently in contact with tourists. Visitor questionnaires were asked to those people staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, shopping, to those people looking tourist-like. This method does have its bias because as a tourist, more specifically a backpacker travelling with 3 other backpackers, the informants will not be completely random, and due to these circumstances, more questionnaires were asked to backpackers than any other tourists. Processing the data, assembling the results and portraying them suitably is vital to convey the information in the best way and so analyze it in context of the aims of the study.
With a mixture of factual and attitudinal questions, much information can be analyzed and material deducted. In this case, there is no real use for graphical means as these would not portray the information as well as quotes in the text disclosed, but instead more emphasis will be placed on the sentiment and speculative comments that they reveal. In addition to the questionnaires, the use of visual images was important, in the form of photographs, as these are useful to portray an area, although factors such as the weather, the time of day and the number of people, etc. will indicate, sometimes falsely, how desirable a place appears. In addition, I visited tourist information bureaux in Oaxaca City and Puerto Escondido, the public library and the Welte Institute for Education in Oaxaca City. I collected numerous brochures and leaflets on tourism in the area and collated data and other information from regional sources, such as state development plans and public records.
During the whole field trip, participant observation as a tourist was essential as was communication with residents and visitors in general, to obtain additional opinions and material and to get a feel for the region, as a tourist. Once out of the field, it was necessary to research more on the topic and the exact direction the dissertation would take could be ascertained, together with the compiling of results. TOURISM IN OAXACA STATE 4. 1 – GEOGRAPHICAL AND ECONOMIC BACKGROUND Oaxaca’s 94, 000 square kilometres make it the fifth largest of Mexico’s 32 states (Fig.
Situated in the south, most of its terrain is rugged mountains and narrow valleys. In the North and West, ranks of hard-to-penetrate mountains isolate it from the rest of Mexico, towards the East, it occupies the low-lying Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and in the South, the long, narrow coastal plain, separated from the Central Valleys by the Sierra Madre del Sur (Lonely Planet Publications, 1992) (Fig.
The Y-shaped fertile plain in the Central Valleys, dominated by the capital Oaxaca City, stands at an altitude of 1, 550 metres, surrounded by 2, 000-3, 000 metre high mountains. Approximately 600 kilometres of Pacific Coast is home to some of Mexico’s finest beaches at Puerto Escondido and Puerto ngel and the new mega-resort of Bahas de Huatulco (Bays of Huatulco).
The climate is pleasant, temperatures on the coast ranging from 20-37 degrees and from 13-32 degrees in the Central Valleys (Lonely Planet Publications, 1992, p. 648).
Oaxaca blends the history, tradition and culture of the pre-hispanic people and Spanish conquistadors, together with traits of the modern world. Various marks have been left on the landscape of the pre hispanic Zapotec and Mixtec civilisations, whilst there remains clear manifestations of the colonial period with magnificent architecture. Despite new and elegant hotels and other expressions of modernity, the region remains Indian at heart. Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico. The inequalities evident between North and South are enhanced by the region’s virtual isolation and almost disconnection from the rest of the country. This remoteness caused Oaxaca’s almost absence from the Revolution.
In the 1920’s, financial crises in the state, followed by an earthquake in 1931, devastated the region. When the rest of Mexico was experiencing the economic miracle from the 1940’s, when industrialisation and economic growth soared, Oaxaca lagged behind. When the debt crisis hit Mexico in 1982, economic growth halted and inflation escalated, Oaxaca felt it, but not as harshly as the rest of the country (Murphy & Stepick, 1991, p. 79).
First impressions of Oaxaca are not of the Third World, but underlying indicators of high malnutrition, infant mortality, illiteracy, unemployment, etc.
imply a poor and underdeveloped region. However, in the ‘colonias populares’ the poor living conditions are visibly evident. Population has multiplied four-fold and now the city has a population of about 300, 000, and rural villagers continue to migrate to the city in search of employment (SEDETUR, 1994), a distinct characteristic of the Third World. The region’s economy is based on small-scale, market-oriented agriculture, based in Indian villages where family businesses have built up artisan handicraft production, altogether ensuring the city’s dependence on its surrounding region. The city is the commercial centre and has increased the flow of goods in and out of the region, expanding its links with the rest of the country. These inequalities have been exacerbated by the lack of industrialisation in the area, Oaxaca City produces 1 % of Mexico’s total industrial goods (Murphy & Stepick, 1991, p.
Oaxaca’s hindrance to industrial development is mainly caused by its geographical isolation. Links to Mexico City are crucial for industrialisation and the range of rugged mountains means rail and highway transportation is slow. This lack of national market, together with the lack of agricultural surplus, mineral production and other resources such as water and electricity; and limited access to capital has meant the omission of Oaxaca in Mexico’s path to industrialisation (Murphy & Stepick, 1991, p.
Foreign investment into Oaxacan manufacturing extends only to bottling soft drinks. It is all of the above factors that have fostered the decision of the regional and national government, as in other Third World countries, to promote the growth of tourism as a means of developing the region and stimulating economic and social growth. Oaxaca’s service industry has grown since the 1960’s and 1970’s and now it plays a very important role in the economic profile of the whole state. The resolution of tourism as a development strategy is becoming more popular with Third World governments, using different aspects of their country to attract visitors, from safaris in Kenya, to reef diving in Belize. Since an increased government involvement since the 1970’s, Oaxaca has realized its potential and has been taking advantage of its preconquest archaeological sites, colonial architecture, villagers producing handicrafts and stunning beach resorts, to entice the tourists.
The specific areas that this dissertation is concerned with are Oaxaca City and the Central Valleys; the Pacific coastal resorts of Puerto Escondido and Puerto ngel and a little further south the new mega-resort of Bahas de Huatulco. These areas are completely contrasting in their approach to tourism and the people that they attract. 4. 2 – TOURISM IN OAXACA CITY AND THE CENTRAL VALLEYS In 1987, the historic centre of Oaxaca was officially declared to belong to the Heritage of Mankind by UNESCO. The city is commonly used as a base to tour the region and its many attractions. In the city itself (Fig.
4. 21), many old colonial buildings have been transformed into hotels, restaurants and handicraft shops. The zcalo (main plaza) is the geographical and social heart of Oaxaca, beautifully shaded, traffic free, lined with cafs and restaurants and street vendors, this area attracts many people for strolling, band concerts and people-watching. The north side of the zcalo is dominated by the cathedral of Oaxaca, and a few blocks north, the more striking Church of Santo Domingo (Plate 4. 21).
These and many other colonial buildings such as the Basilica of La Soledad, the Church of San Felipe Neri and the Convent of Santa Catalina all attract visitors.
When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico and realized that they had discovered a world of unrivalled beauty, their architectural style was drawn partly from their own culture and partly from those already there, such a style not repeated anywhere else and is regarded with pride by the regional government when maintaining and reconstructing old buildings. From the Regional Museum of Anthropology and History, filled with a collection of relics and jewellery excavated at the nearby archaeological site of Monte Albn, and the Rufino Tamayo Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art, to the Graphic Arts Institute and Museum House of Benito Jure, where this former Mexican President worked. It is clear that the Oaxacans are using every element of their history to attract tourists, in providing something for everyone. These attractions are not specifically aimed at tourists but also for the local population. Rufino Tamayo donated his private collection to the people of Oaxaca, and the free entry to museums on Sundays is to enable the locals too, to benefit from these attractions. The buildings are built hard against the pavement in a blaze of unexpected colours (Chun n, 1994), the layout of blocks running from east to west and north to south, gives the impression of uniformity but on closer inspection, every street is unique and has something different to offer the visitor (Plate 4.
Other attractions to the city, to the entire region, include the gastronomy and shopping. Oaxaca has produced some of the finest regional dishes in Mexico and in 1986, there were over 400 establishments in the capital, selling food and drink and in 1993, there were over 72 first class restaurants in the whole state (Alvarez, 1994, p. 54).
Oaxacan handicrafts are admired all over Mexico and the world and attract many people to the shops and markets of the city (as the main market centre), and to the Indian Villages in the surrounding Central Valleys, here the majority of products are still made (Fig. 4.
Carpentry includes brightly painted wood animals from Arra zola; good quality ceramics, such as black pottery from San Bartolo Coyote pec and the green crockery of Atzompa; machete making in Ocotlan; leather and tinware from the city itself; gold and silver are normally reproductions of Monte Albn jewellery and lastly, the colourful textiles such as ‘sarapes’, rugs, dresses and weaves can be found all over the Valley. These many artisanal handicrafts reflect the artistic spirit of the Oaxacan people and although originally made for the local population are now used to attract tourists outside the region and the country. The sixteen different ethnic groups of Oaxaca enrich the traditions of the state and give a special flavour to the festivities that take place through-out the year, playing their part in attracting the hordes.
The most important is the ‘Guelaguetza’ or ‘Monday on the Hill’, which takes place in July at the large open-air amphitheatre on the wooded hill of Cerro del For tn overlooking the city. The tradition, going back to when the pre-hispanic Zapotec, Mixtecs and Aztecs held a festival to honour their maize gods, followed by Christian priests celebrating the feast of the Virgen del Carmen, and since then, pilgrimages have continued to the present day. Magnificently costumed dancers from the seven regions of Oaxaca (almost 500 costumes) perform lively traditional dances to live music. The ‘Guelaguetza’ is very important for tourism in the area, as thousands of people flock to the city, mainly from the region itself.
Hotels fill quickly and the financial gains for the locals are important. Again it is the cultural image that is being used to attract visitors. Although the majority of visitors are Oaxacans during the festival, the Guelaguetza is presented and performed in various hotels weekly and sometimes nightly throughout the year, which attract more non-regional tourists. Other festivals such as the Radish Night (begun in 1889) celebrate the art and imagination of the Oaxacan people, figures are carved from radishes and displayed in the zcalo.
As well as in the city itself, the many attractions in the surrounding regions play their own role in tourist activity. In addition to the handicrafts and markets here, a major part of tourism for Oaxaca is the magnetism of visitors to the archaeological zones. These historical mounds of the preconquest period are dotted around the landscape of the Central Valleys and show evidence of these intelligent, creative Indians when developing great civilisations. In the Valley of Oaxaca, 10 km west of the city, is the archaeological site of Monte Albn or ‘White Hill’ (Plate 4. 23).
Situated on an artificially-flattened hilltop, 400 metres above the Valley floor, it’s a stunning view of endless mountain peaks and valleys.
The site dates back to 600 B. C. , flourishing until 900 A. D. under Zapotec rule and then from 1200 A. D.
until the Spanish conquest, under the Mixtecs. Monte Albn is centred around a central plaza and is noted for its remarkable architecture, clay urns and stone carvings, especially the ‘danzantes’ carvings of human figures (Plate 4. 24).
The site at Monte Albn is of great tourist interest, with daily bus tours from Oaxaca City, official guides and other tourist facilities on site, catering to the needs of visitors. The regional government is attempting to make the site accessible for as many visitors as possible and is responsible for reconstructing some mounds to their original appearance (Plate 4. 25).
Various urns, masks, jewellery and other Zapotec and Mixtec artifacts have been excavated from tombs and are on display in museums in Oaxaca City. There are still many tombs that could be potentially excavated, when the money and the need arises. Into the Valley of Tlacolula, east of the city, is a mass of tourist attractions. The ruins of Yagul, Dain z and Mitla, the market in Tlacolula, weavers in Teotitln del Valle and the cypress tree at El Tule – at over 2, 000 years old it is claimed to have the largest girth of any tree in the world, at 42 metres round. These all add to the list of attractions used to lure visitors. Mitla, ‘City of the Dead’, was the last Mixtec-Zapotec site before the Spanish conquest.
The outstanding feature is the architecture with its intricately carved designs and mosaic work. Being located further out from the city, accommodation and other tourist facilities have been provided in Mitla itself, encouraging a longer stay in the Valley. The Oaxacans have undisputedly been using aspects of their cultural life as tourist traps – archaeological sites, colonial architecture, festivities, markets, museums and cuisine, overall playing on their indigenous image, selling this image on postcards and in travel brochures (Plates 4. 26-4. 28).
Recently another tourist attraction was set up to reinforce this image, when in 1993, the Tourist Y’ was inaugurated.
With the assistance of SEDETUR, eight small tourist houses were established in eight Indian villages each with their own charm (Plate 4. 29, Fig. 4. 23).
Designed by a Dutch architect, in attempt to contribute to the development of the Oaxaca Valley, they have been built on an ecological basis, hinting at ‘green tourism’. The houses are painted bright turquoise and equipped with all basic facilities, the guests being able to meet and interact with the Zapotec Indians and in this way, villagers can make a living and the traditions and folklore of this ancient people can be preserved.
The pleasant, subtropical climate and tranquillity of the remote surroundings are what attract people, together with the ability to establish contact with the Zapotec people. An added attraction is the location of the Tourist Y’, and their proximity to the many other attractions in the Valleys. The Oaxacan government recognizes the need for the training of people within the tourist industry, the inauguration of promotional campaigns and projects to attract national and international visitors to the area. The importance of improving the quality of present services and the installation of additional accommodation facilities, recreation centres, transportation means is established by the government and various authorities, in its attempt to strengthen the strategic role of tourist industry in the development of the area.
4. 3 – TOURISM IN THE COASTAL REGION For some travellers, Oaxaca City is merely a stopover on the way to a ‘laid-back’s tint on the Oaxacan coast (Fig. 4. 31).
Newly paved roads through mountainous country and more flights have brought this isolated region (an area of 12, 500 sq. km) closer to the rest of Mexico since the mid 1970’s.
Despite this, the two fishing villages-come-traveller’s havens of Puerto Escondido and Puerto ngel are still relatively small and more relaxed than most idyllic coastal spots. In contrast, to the east is the site of a chosen mega project on the once sparsely populated Bahas de Huatulco. These two regions are incredibly different in what they offer, their approach and hence the tourists they attract. PUERTO ESCONDIDO AND PUERTO NGEL Puerto Escondido (‘Hidden Port’), with a population of 50, 000 (Carrizosa, 1994, p. 11) is an enchanting little village, 263 km.
from Oaxaca, through rainforest-filled mountains (Fig. 4. 32).
For a long time, the only foreigners who knew about Puerto Escondido were surfers and backpackers. This has only slightly altered, but the charm and natural beauty of the resort remains.
The population is scattered over numerous hills and valleys but the main extent of the town covers a hill side that rises from the main bay. The main ocean front street, Avenida Prez Gas ga (Plate 4. 31), is traffic-free and hosts many hotels, restaurants and shops, providing adequate facilities for the tourist. The main bay (Plate 4. 32) curves around at its east end, to the long Zicatela Beach, although dangerous for swimming, it is famed among surfers as the fourth best surf beach in the world (Plate 4. 33).
Set back from the beach are several bungalows and ca baas, hammocks in beach huts style, with a few bars and restaurants, attracting a certain type of tourist. It seems that the locals are content to play host to board-riders, their disciples and the occasional backpacker passing through (Plate 4. 34).
Larger hotels can be found in the town and to the West, where other beaches line a series of bays, creating a wide dispersion of tourism in this small town. Accessible by boat or road is Puerto Angeli to where a woman on the beach rents out colourful hammocks and snorkelling gear, and the only building is a pala pa-covered (thatched) seafood restaurant.
Further along are the Bays of Carrizalillo and Bac ocho, hosting small hotels in more secluded areas. Organized tours from the town visit the mangrove-lined lagoons, with exuberant tropical vegetation and a myriad of exotic wildlife at Manialtepec and Chacahua; and other horse-riding and snorkelling excursions. All watersports are an attraction to the area, as well as the overall tranquil atmosphere and the inevitability of relaxation and regeneration. An advert for Puerto Escondido reads, “Don’t forget to take sunblock, something to read, and a ‘maana’ attitude. Your visit could likely be what you remember most about Mexico when you return to the hustle and bustle of the work world.” (Carrizosa, 1994, p. 11) Hedonism is the rage.
In 1990, the Mexican President, Carlos Salinas de Gort ari (1988-1994), visited Puerto Escondido. Since then, the resort has received immense support from the government in its determination for widespread appreciation of the beautiful region and concern for its future. Plans were formulated to encourage a yearly international surf tournament, and hence the inevitable tourist invasion of Zicatela Beach. By 1991, the development of basic infrastructure was planned, to raise the standard of living, together with the controlled growth of urbanisation, in the creation of a new commercial, hotel and residential centre. At the same time, Puerto Escondido received its first charter flights from Canada together with a major rejuvenation of the local airport and other tourist transportation; this whole new series of events marking the start of a major tourist development project in the area.
Eighty-one kilometres eastward along the coastal road is the similar sleepy little fishing village of Puerto ngel. Still predominantly undiscovered, the village lies on a bay in between two rocky headlands, supplying only the barest essentials to the traveller. Accessible only by recently paved road, the tenor of local life here is very slow, despite the increase in tourist flow. Puerto ngel has a tiny beach itself, but the travellers’ haven is considered the beaches either side of the village, in particular, the long, empty stretch of pale sand called Zipolite. The wide, palm-fringed beach is about 2 km. long, and home to palm-huts, hammocks and a few cheap bars where nudity is not a problem, nor is the marijuana, “Time takes a back seat in Zipolite and people often stay far longer than they planned (if they planned).” (Lonely Planet Publications, 1992, p.
696) The surf is deadly, fraught with riptides and currents, and the swimming is lethal, so the keen surfers of Puerto Escondido do not venture this far east, more the laid-back hippy type travellers, creating a slightly different tourism altogether. BAHAS DE HUATULCO Different plans have been made for the Bahas de Huatulco, merely 48 km. east of Puerto ngel. Here, nine pristine, idyllic bays cover 35 km. of beautiful Pacific coastland. Endless bays and coves are enclosed by the Sierra Madre mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.
In the early 1980’s, Huatulco was a barren, isolated wilderness with no electricity, no water lines, no phones and no sewage drainage systems. Fishing and agriculture enabled the forty or so families to survive and the only access was a 237 km. dust track to Oaxaca City (Mexican Ministry of Tourism n. d. ).
In 1983, Mexico’s National Fund for Tourism Development (FONATUR) began a carefully designed development programme to create paradise, with a mix of modernism and nature.
FONATUR, developers of Acapulco, Canon and Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, is now responsible for 13 ‘mega-projects’, as an attempt to double the number of tourists to Mexico by the year 2000 and bring Mexico into the 21 st century. Intensive planning was carried out on Mexico’s 10, 000 km coastline, in order to find suitable locations for potential mega-resorts. The Bahas de Huatulco were chosen, amongst others all over the country, and work was well underway by 1985, open to its first visitors in 1988. The plans included the construction of new hotels, mainly large international chains, such as Sheraton and Holiday Inn and some inexpensive hostels; all inclusive resorts, such as Club Med. ; shops, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, casinos and an 18-hole golf course, everything to cater for the tourists’ needs.
Work also included the construction of a highway, making all nine bays accessible; and the building of a modern airport to receive domestic and international flights. Santa Cruz de Huatulco has become the area’s administrative and commercial centre. However, the major attraction of the area are the bays themselves, white sand, clear waters, and an abundance of marine life, unblemished by pollution, noise and crowds, until tourist development perhaps The tourist invasion has met some resistance from the locals who have witnessed an instant modern city spring up on tangled forest (Lonely Planet Publications, 1992, p. 699).
However, FONATUR is determined that the Bahas de Huatulco will not become contaminated like other resorts. The project’s aim is to strengthen the regional economy by integrating the area’s fishing activities with tourism, so they develop alongside the major development. FONATUR recognizes the value and importance of the area that has been preserved for centuries and the need to acclimatize tourism to this fragile environment. The Municipal Government of Oaxaca attended a tourism conference in 1993, concerning Madrid, Milan, Berlin, Paris, Acapulco and Huatulco.
The festival dealt with tourism’s future in an international market, emphasizing the importance of competitiveness and promotion, via training programmes and the development of advertising campaigns. In general, it is evident that Oaxaca State, as a whole, is taking advantage of its historical and modern attributes to strengthen its tourist industry. As legacies of its past, preconquest archaeological sites attract visitors to the City and Central Valleys, as do the architectural features of the colonial period, together with its handicrafts, markets and festivals, with the added culinary appeal a bonus. In this respect, the Central Region is playing on its cultural image, on its traditions and heritage to strengthen the role of its tourist industry in the development of the region. On the other hand, the coastal region plays on its genuine beauty to attract tourists. The “tropical, tranquil and tantalizing” environment, (Carrizosa, 1994, p.
11) the natural charm of the coast, with its sun, sea and sand being the features that tourism relies on in this area, which will in turn enhance the development of the region. These images of the coast are too, sold in travel brochures and on postcards (Plates 4. 35-4. 37).
A translation of a section from the Doctrine, 1992 b, Gobierno del Estado de Oaxaca (Oaxaca State government) on 6 years of transformation 1986-1992, p. 24 states, “It’s the natural beauty, the beauty of open spaces, the historical singularity, that attracts visitors from all over the world to our area. However, it is not enough to rely strictly on a tourist mechanism for the visitor to come and return… it is essential that tourist activity develops in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity that makes a civilised and stable environment for the visitor.
It demands wisdom and respect from the inhabitants, not just in their relation with the tourist, but as much in the preservation of stability and social order.” (own translation).
The Doctrine goes on to describe the attempts to curb inequality in the state and integrate poles of tourist attractions with their location, so that affluent paradises are not surrounded by belts of misery. So, together with improving the economic development of the region, plans are to develop the tourist industry alongside the societal environment, with efforts to raise the standard of living in the region. The aim is not to simply create an attractive front for the visitor, but to also establish a completely developed society, ensuring the well-being of the Oaxacan people and their natural environment.
This section is an example of Mexican political rhetoric, that effectively extricates the government from any blame or criticism for not approaching tourism conscientiously. It remains to be seen whether these plans will be carried out in full. THE IMPACT OF TOURISM ON OAXACA In the previous chapter, it was discussed how the contrasting localities in Oaxaca have been attracting tourists, playing on cultural images, idyllic beach spots, etc. It is now necessary to ascertain the effects of tourism on the economy, society and environment in order to determine the legitimacy of tourism as a development strategy.
5. 1 – OAXACA AND THE CENTRAL VALLEYS In 1991, 800, 000 people visited Oaxaca and the Central Valleys, with an economic expense of over MX$ 136 bill. (Gobierno del Estado de Oaxaca, 1992 a, p. 15).
This will undisputedly be economically beneficial to the area, automatically improving the balance of payments situation as it increases the receipts from inbound tourists, thus creating a more positive balance. For the main tourist centres of Oaxaca, Puerto Escondido, Puerto ngel and Huatulco, the tourist spending increased from MX$62. 3 bill. in 1987 to MX$815.
8 bill. in 1992. (Gobierno del Estado de Oaxaca, 1992 a, p. 14).
This large increase will have undoubtedly benefitted the economy of the tourist centres concerned, and hence the whole state. This capital comes from spending on accommodation, transport, food and souvenirs and will thus increase the incomes of those involved.
However, it is not known how this is then respect and what quantities go on to the next round in the multiplier effect. It is also not known if much of this economic expenditure trickles down to those areas that need it the most, for example, the people in the ‘colonias’ on the outskirts of the city and the rural villagers in the surrounding Central Valleys. The main attractions in the Central Region seem to be the archaeological sites outside the city. Questionnaire results reveal that 12 out of the 15 people appreciated the area most due to the sites of Monte Albn, Mitla, Yagul, etc. Due to this, bus and taxi services are benefitting economically from tours to the sites and the sites themselves will benefit as more financial resources become available for any preservation or restoration needed, in addition to the incomes any craft / souvenir sellers on the site that will benefit from increased tourism. The markets are also an important source of income, as the traditional, colourful handicrafts are another popular attraction to the tourist.
The markets in the town charge more than in the rural villages, but the remittances back to the villages of production are important for their sustenance. The Tourist Y’ is still in its early stages and thus it is hard to predict success. Only 2 of the 15 visitors questioned, had heard of this scheme and were planning a stay in one. Getting ‘back-to-nature’ and ‘eco-tourism’s eem the ‘new thing’ and could potentially prove successful. However, with the reasonable prices charged, will yields be high The exceptional circumstances here, that the Tourist Y’ are run by the villagers themselves, mean that payments go directly to the rural communities, at a grassroots level, which is the level at which most Non-Governmental Organizations tackle development problems. The types of tourists is important in determining the economic gains.
Oaxaca City is evidently very popular with backpackers, among the 15 asked, 9 were student backpackers and a further 3 were backpacking (although questionnaire bias has already been recognized).
Travellers on a low budget obviously do not spend as much money as other tourists, reducing economic expenditure. Throughout this dissertation, international tourism has been emphasised as this is the current trend in the Third World, and the importance of Mexican tourism has not been credited. However, in 1986, 87 % of visitors to the Central Valleys were nationals, the other 13 % foreign (Alvarez, 1992, p. 72).
Domestic tourism is especially important in the Guelaguetza festivities, people come from all over Mexico for these celebrations.
So, with the majority of foreign travellers (mainly North Americans and Europeans) visiting Oaxaca, spending merely 2-5 days in cheap hotels and hostels, as a stopover to see the sites before heading off to the beach, it is evident that Oaxaca will have to rely on its national visitors to boost the tourist income. A major benefit of tourism is tha.