According to Eduardo Barroso, the CEO of management consultancy EB Turismo, in his presentation at the XII Foro Nacional de Turismo held in Mérida, Yucatán, in February 2014, Mexico’s 83 Magic Towns (Pueblos Mágicos) attracted more than 4 million visitors in 2013, and tourist spending of more than 6 billion pesos (460 million dollars). However, he also pointed out that the program has not been prudently and carefully developed, but has been distorted by the designation of 46 Magic Towns in just two years (2011 and 2012), compared to the designation of just 37 Magic Towns in the preceding decade. (The Magic Town program started in 2001.)
The Tourism Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu has called a halt to the program while officials work out how to reinstate it in a manner that will ensure that only towns worthy of the designation can actually acquire the status. This will no doubt require establishing new guidelines and regulations governing the program.
Success stories for the Magic Town program include San Miguel de Allende, which was first designated a Magic Town but has since been elevated to the much more exalted status of a World Heritage City; Real de Catorce, in San Luis Potosí, which has seen visitor numbers jump by 1200% in only 12 years; and the town of Tequila, in Jalisco, where the coordination of three levels of government has seen visitor numbers quickly rise from 18,000 to 165,000 visitors a year.
- Mexico’s Magic Town program loses its shine
- The distribution of Mexico’s Magic Towns (with links to many earlier posts)
- Mexico’s Magic Towns program going international