Final Days of SECTUR

by Ron Mader

When the news went out Tuesday afternoon that President Calderon proposed merging the Tourism Secretariat (SECTUR) with that of the Economy, Twitter was abuzz with the headline. Today’s dead tree papers (see below) are reporting on the reactions, but little of the substance of the change. SECTUR itself does not mention the news on its own website.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the change for its own sake. Having written about Mexico’s tourism for 20 years, I have rarely found SECTUR a helpful ally. I’ve won two ‘Lente de Plata’ awards for my coverage of Mexico, but I have found it a struggle to stay informed. A constant turn-over in staff and the endless bureaucracy of, well a bureaucracy, has kept me from forming a positive working relation.

Mexican nationals working toward ecotourism and rural travel have long complained that Mexico promotes only its mega projects, not the ‘off the beaten track’ adventures for which the country has great potential. Does SECTUR help them? “No,” is the resounding chorus. There’s been a great deal of lip service, but not that much action.

Tourism can be the catalyst for job creation, rural development and good diplomacy, but this requires the players working together and respecting one another. My only hope is that in the restructuring there is some re-imagining of the role tourism plays in strengthening Mexico’s economy while respecting the country’s unique and diverse cultural and natural habitat.

What do you make of the change? We’d like to hear.

Elsewhere on the Web

Fusionar SRA y Turismo a otras Secretarías – Presidente Calderón

Desaparece Calderón Sectur, SRA y SFP – La Jornada

Divide a sector turístico desaparición de Sectur – Cronica

Secretary of Tourism (Mexico) – Wikipedia

Mexico President Felipe Calderón

7 thoughts on “Final Days of SECTUR”

  1. The first thing that came to mind when I heard about this was, what’s going to become of the Magic Pueblos program? I was thrilled when they started designating these wonderful towns and helping them to preserve their character and culture by developing low-impact tourism — an antidote to the mega resort fervor. But trying to get information about the Magic Pueblos is a continuing battle … I never hear which new Magic Pueblos are named each year without nagging sources and scouring the Internet. Always made me wonder what SECTUR’s mission really is — it doesn’t seem to be travel promotion but development promotion. I guess I agree with you that a change could be good, but I worry that consolidation could make tourism officials even less less accessible to journalists and information even harder to dig out.

  2. Hi Ron — I can’t speak for Mexican nationals because I’m not one, but I share your hope that this restructuring brings some positive changes. As someone who has written a lot about Mexico, I can say that part of the problem lies with the mainstream media in the U.S. and Canada. There is still a reluctance on the part of many magazines and newspapers (Remember them?) to publish “off the beaten track” and ecotourism stories. Consequently, Mexico remains primarily a resort destination for most northerners.

  3. I have been a Tour Operator for over 20 years dealing with different authorities in Mexico, States and Federal. In all my experiences with SECTUR, this office has been the most difficult to work with. I always found more support from the Mexican Tourism Bureau.

  4. Christine — I was also excited about the Pueblos Magicos program when I first heard about it. An attractive bilingual (Spanish and English) guide to the Pueblos Magicos was published by Mexico Desconocido, but other than that, I’m not sure how much was done to promote tourism in the designated towns. And, as you say, accurate information has always been difficult to come by. Low-impact programs like Pueblos Magicos do seem to be a step in the right direction, though, so hopefully they won’t be allowed to wither on the vine.

  5. At first glance -mainly for international opinion- this might seem something weird. How can a (megadiverse, megacultural and 3rd-world) country be so blind to eliminate a tourism secretariat?

    We all hope this change can result into better tourism policies (mainly those related with sustainability) But I’d rather prefered a deep SECTUR’s transformation instead of abolition.

    Best regards.

  6. This is my most commented blog entry yet on Mexico Premiere, so thanks to everyone for such sterling responses to this essay.

    Time will tell how tourism will be restructured or reimagined in Mexico. Here are my two centavos: the transformation that is required ought to be both deep and broad. Tourism impacts many sectors and is truly greater than any one secretariat.

    Glitches – such as not having adequate information about specific tourism development projects – are nothing new, but they certainly have no place in tourism 2.010 and beyond. The Pueblos Magicos should be a centerpiece of pride, but more than one local tourism pro has told me that the magic occurs only if the tourists arrive.

    It would be great to see a collaborative Web 2.0-style approach that empowers locals AND visitors as we pursue a long tail approach. This is what locals take pride and what outsiders are seeking, but the long tail — — falls flat when communication doesn’t quite work. For optimal outcomes – economic, cultural and environmental – Mexico’s tourism sector needs to find ways of courting partners throughout the value chain. Perhaps this shake-up is just the opportunity we need to supercharge existing relations and develop new ways of doing things better.

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