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.
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