A couple walking hand in hand on a sandy beach, with people swimming and boats in the background.

“400 Million-Peso Beach Rehab Plan Sparks Controversy”

The hotel industry in the northern region of Quintana Roo is advocating for a new beach restoration and maintenance scheme to address ongoing erosion issues. Initial estimates suggest the project could cost around 400 million pesos.

Jesús Almaguer Salazar, president of the Association of Hotels in Cancun, Puerto Morelos, and Isla Mujeres, stated the proposal was submitted to Jan De Nul Group. This company previously led beach restoration efforts in 2006 following the devastation caused by Hurricane Wilma.

The project aims to assess the current state of the beach and determine the resources needed to restore this key tourist attraction in the Mexican Caribbean. "We're looking at a cost of around 400 million pesos, but we need to wait for the company's budget proposal. The good news is, they already have the necessary equipment on hand, so we won't incur additional costs to transport it from elsewhere," Salazar explained.

While recent Hurricane Beryl did not exacerbate the erosion problem, Salazar stressed the importance of having a maintenance fund. He recalled the creation of a beach trust a few years ago, where a 25% payment was sought through Zofemat to cover a previous loan. However, the funds were not properly accounted for.

"At the moment, there's no emergency requiring immediate attention or recovery funds. But experience tells us we need to be prepared. In Cancun, for example, we have a fund dedicated to sanitation and environmental rights, funded by the collection of Environmental Sanitation," he added.

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Tourism entrepreneur José Chapur Zahoul, who was involved in the previous beach restoration project, noted that since 2008, Banobras provided 800 million pesos in financing. This was intended to be repaid through Zofemat, a goal which has been achieved, leaving a 2% surplus exclusively for maintenance.

"CFE created a highly efficient model, and we're even considering proposals to establish a contingency fund for emergencies, particularly in light of the hurricane situation," Zahoul explained.