Mexican Pacific Coast Tourism Project to Outshine Cancún

Published 15 October 08 12:06 PM

By Barnard R. Thompson

The Mexican government has announced a major new tourism development
that will stretch along the Pacific Ocean coast of southern Sinaloa –
a project that will ultimately be twice the size of Cancún. A master
planned tourist area to rival not just Cancún, but too the Riviera
Maya that runs along the shores of the Mexican Caribbean.

President Felipe Calderón, with officials from the Mexican
government's National Trust Fund for Tourism Development (Fondo
Nacional de Fomento al Turismo, or Fonatur), made the announcement at
the September 29 opening of the Fonatur sponsored Mexican Real Estate
and Tourism Investment Expo, in Mexico City.

Provisionally called the Pacific Coast Integrally Planned Center,
infrastructure work is scheduled to begin during the first half of
2009, with the final stage of the phased developments to be completed
by 2025. This in much the same way that other Fonatur master planned
seaside resorts, such as Cancún, Los Cabos, Ixtapa, Loreto and the
Bays of Huatulco, have been done.

The 5,884 acre [9.2 square miles] Pacific Coast CIP will be in the
midst of the Sinaloa National Wetlands, in part on the near 5,000
acre Rancho Las Cabras, owned by former Sinaloa governor Antonio
Toledo Corro. The area is 80 miles south of Mazatlán and west of the
Mexico Highway 15 town of Escuinapa, in the municipality of the same
name. On land between the Pacific Ocean and lagoons and marshes
known as the Laguna Agua Grande, the area will include 7.5 miles of
beaches between the villages of Isla del Bosque and Teacapán to the
south on the State of Nayarit border.

The coastal area is well known locally for its beauty and
tranquility. Slightly inland from the coast, the estuaries, lagoons
and mangrove stands are surrounded by palm and tropical flora filled
valleys, with a notable abundance of birds and migratory waterfowl.
Deer, mountain lions and peccary, among other animals, are found in
the area.

And fishing is big in the region, commercial fishing (and shrimp
farming), and of course sportfishing. Several species of protected
sea turtles come to area beaches, and at sea among the many species
found are billfish, humpback whales and white sharks.

Of historical significance, there are large oyster shell mounds near
Teacapán that experts say were harvested by indigenous peoples living
in the area as long as 4,000 years ago.

The investment by the Mexican government is to be around MX$5 billion
pesos [US$465 million as of September 29], according to President
Calderón (who made the announcement before the current worldwide
financial crises came to a head, and the anticipated cutbacks).
Calderón added that the aforementioned Mexican public sector
investment should spark another US$6.638 billion in private national
and international investments.

First stage construction costs will be some MX$1.5 billion [US$139
million as of 9/29], according to a Fonatur executive, that will be
applied to 988 acres. That first phase is scheduled for completion
in 2012.

The President went on to say that the mega-development will
ultimately create 78,000 direct and indirect jobs. He also said
estimates are that the Pacific Coast CIP will attract nearly 3
million tourists by the year 2025, and US$2.8 billion in foreign

Once completed the overall complex is to include four golf courses;
two marinas for a total of 1,000 vessels; 44,200 hotel rooms (hotels,
condominiums, etc.); a five mile beachfront walk; and a light
railway. Plus the possibility of a new airport is in the offing (or
the small airport at Teacapán could be expanded).

Based on what has been learned from other CIPs, such as Cancún,
hotels will not be allowed right on the beach. The required buffer
zone will be 300 meters. Hotels will also have a maximum height
limit of four stories.

Urban zones and shopping areas will integrate open space shielded by
law against construction, as will cultural centers and convention

Emphasis will be placed on nature and the environment, with 25
percent of the total 5,884 acres dedicated as natural protected
areas, acreage that must be devoid of development. Furthermore, 109
acres of the surrounding wetland environs will be kept intact.
Regarding the lagoon and marsh areas, visitors will be able to enjoy
ecotourism activities via a series of canals and pathways.

As well, Pacific Coast CIP developments will have to meet marine and
land area environmental standards and requisites that are included in
the 2006 Marine Ecological Ordinance of the Gulf of California

For workers, at least 5,000 homes will be built, along with schools,
hospitals and facilities for needed community services.

Water will be provided through three separate systems, wastewater
treatment plants will be built, and each hotel will have to install
not only rainwater catchment receptacles, but too separate systems
for rain and wastewater drainage and control.

On an interconnected regional basis, highway improvements are planned
for the stretch of Highway 15 from Mazatlán south to Tepic, Nayarit
(and on to Tequila and Guadalajara; or southwest to the Bahía de
Banderas-Compostela Tourist Corridor and Puerto Vallarta). Too, the
road inland from Mazatlán to Durango is to be improved, all arteries
that will give area visitors, among others, easier access to tourist
and cultural sites, neighboring cities, mountain regions,
archeological zones, and indigenous communities.

And finally, for ocean going visitors, the Pacific Coast CIP is to be
in harmony with Fonatur's Sea of Cortez Plan, the system of Transient
Marinas, and the so-called Nautical Staircase.


Barnard Thompson, editor of, has spent 50 years in
Mexico and Latin America, providing multinational clients with
actionable intelligence; country and political risk reporting and
analysis; and business, lobbying, and problem resolution services



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