A bustling beach scene with numerous people swimming and sunbathing in front of high-rise hotels.

Unveiling the Dark Side of Tourism in Tulum & Playa del Carmen

The surge in tourism in Playa del Carmen and Tulum is threatening protected natural areas. The shift in land use due to the influx of tourists is putting at risk dunes, cenotes, underground rivers, and caves, according to Dr. Patricia Eugenia Olivera Martínez, a research professor at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of UNAM.

Dr. Olivera Martínez will discuss this issue at the conference "The New Cities for Tourism: Tulum and Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo", scheduled for Tuesday at 12 p.m., as part of the "Socio-territorial and Urban-environmental Processes" seminar. She will explore how tourism is leading to high land usage and occupancy, with economic activities largely related to tourist services. She will also delve into the rising demand for residential land, both for tourism sector workers and those buying properties in these tourist cities.

The conference will further examine the development of residential housing complexes, secondary residence areas, temporary accommodation via digital platforms, and the urbanization of western regions where workers reside. Dr. Olivera Martínez contends that tourism is reshaping cities, creating diverse occupations, and disrupting the natural equilibrium of coastal areas.

The influx of tourists has led to significant land use changes, endangering protected natural areas like dunes, cenotes, underground rivers, and caves, which are now facing urbanization. This tourism-driven urbanization is also destroying fragile ecosystems, such as mangroves and natural areas.

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Dr. Olivera Martínez's conference aims to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of overtourism in Playa del Carmen and Tulum. She emphasizes the need to address these issues to safeguard the environment and conserve the region's natural areas.