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Cancun and the Riviera Maya are two of the most popular travel destinations in Mexico and the world, so it makes sense traveler access is sufficient, especially with the Riviera Maya becoming a favorite vacation spot in the Yucatan Peninsula. After years of deliberation by government officials, local businesses, and environmental groups, the development of a new international airport west of Tulum, south of the Riviera Maya, has been approved. On May 11, 2010, proposals for the construction and operation of the new airport started coming in from private companies and will continue through November 2010. The estimated completion date of the new Riviera Maya airport is 2012.
So what's all the fuss about?
The Riviera Maya region is filled with natural wonders, such as protected tropical rainforests, jungles, mangroves, rivers, cenotes (cavernous sinkholes with natural springs), wildlife, white sand beaches and the blue Caribbean Sea, containing coral reefs along the great Mesoamerican Barrier Reef that harbor thousands of fish and rare marine life. Environmental protection efforts are booming in this region, so environmentalists are concerned that the development of the airport will contribute to the rapid extinction of various plant and animal species and their natural habitats. Maintaining these ecosystems is essential for providing the world with food, clean water, and fuel (per the United Nations Environment Programme).
The benefits of a new airport?
It's no secret that tourism in Mexico took a dive in 2009, losing one million tourists after the swine flu (H1N1) scare, then again in 2010 after fears of drug gang violence in the northern Mexican states spread. Despite these setbacks and a growing public awareness of safe travel in Mexico, tourism officials in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, where Cancun and the Riviera Maya are located, say that local tourism is returning to normal levels. The growth of the Riviera Maya as one of Mexico's favorite travel places has contributed to the demand for additional flights and hotels. For these reasons and the resulting increase in tourism and construction jobs, building the new Riviera Maya airport is important for both traveler accommodation and economic survival in the region.
Man & Nature in Harmony
Our hope is that the government, along with private investors and contractors, will consider developing and operating the airport using responsible tourism practices. By following models of sustainable tourism, such as Hacienda Tres Ríos Resort, and by employing environmentally sound construction and operations wherever possible, the new Riviera Maya airport could provide many advantages. With tourism as Mexico's third largest source of income, the new airport would also assist in reducing poverty in the region by creating more jobs.
Some might consider sacrificing the welfare of humanity for the good of nature, but we could learn to coexist in harmony by instituting safe environmental practices that allow for the mutual benefit of both man and nature.
What do you think? Do you agree with the construction of a new airport? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
About the Author
Christina Famiglietti is a professional writer and editor with experience in various industries. Her most recent passion is the Mexican Caribbean, where she lives and is inspired to write about her beloved Mexico — its nature, culture, travel, and tourism.