Volume 43, Number 168,
January-March 2012
Interstate Tourism Development
between Puerto Vallarta and Bahía de Banderas: Mexico
Marco A. Merchand Rojas

The Sixth Article of the presidential Decree states the following:

"Expropriation for creation or improvement is a matter of public utility, as is the adequate use of population centers and their life sources, as well as the development of the tourist industry, in which great investments have been made in infrastructure and the creation and development of activities that benefit the collective. These reasons make necessary and clearly justify the expropriation of lands referenced here. [...] Habitational and tourist development in the lands surrounding Bahía de Banderas located along the coastland of the states of Nayarit and Jalisco, and the improvement of population centers in Puerto Vallarta, Jarretaderas, Bucerías, Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Higuera Blanca, Sayulita, Peñita de Jaltemba, Las varas and El Capomo as well as life sources are hereby declared to be of public utility..." (Presidential decree, 1970).

Beginning with this expropriation, meant to foster tourism, we begin to see changes on a grand scale in terms of the territorial zoning that determines the configuration of the coastal land. Of course, the inhabitants were relocated or confined to other regions, and incorporated into the new economic activities that tourism would generate (hotel infrastructure construction and general tourism services).

It is worth mentioning that the Punto de Mita example is only a fraction of the territory that corresponds to the Municipio de Bahía de Banderas located along the southern coastal region of the state of Nayarit. In 1989, the municipality of Compostela was divided. The northern part kept the same name, and the southern part was re-named Bahía de Banderas. The micro-region of Punta de Mita is circumscribed by the localities of Higuera Blanca to the north and Nuevo Corral del Risco, and is contiguous with Emiliano Zapata development to the south. The Integrally Planned Center (ipc) named "Litibú" is located nearby.

The Zoning Program for the Inter-state Metropolitan Zone of Puerto Vallarta-Bahía de Banderas was implemented to allow the ipc to enter into operation.11 This program included the Metropolitan Zone of Puerto Vallarta and Bahía de Banderas and formed what is normally called a micro-region, as both municipalities are closely linked and face similar issues. They share the same natural conditions (scenic coastal zone), and have other many similar aspects in terms of urban-economic planning and issues of tourism growth.

The urban expansion of the city of Puerto Vallarta towards bordering municipalities has brought about an interstate conurbation12 with Bahía de Banderas. In this way, the urban zone of Puerto Vallarta has become a principal and central city that exerts urbanizing pressure over available land bordering neighboring municipalities.

The pressure to urbanize that Puerto Vallarta exercises over neighboring populations is called primacy, and it may be approached from two angles. Firstly, as a geographic indicator of the urban concentration of the larger city with respect to others in the system, and secondly, through the process of centralization (Pozos, 1991; Unikel et al, 1978).13 This primacy is primarily observed through population analysis. Centrality is measured by employment indicators in the economic services sector and professional and managerial occupations, with the purpose of preferentially examining the centrality of the most dynamic urban functions of high added value, and possibly those that are most linked to the global economy.

As S. Carrillo writes (2007), Puerto Vallarta is a subsystem and is part of the system of cities in the western region that enjoys a dynamic coastal axis with Bahía de Banderas in the neighboring state of Nayarit. Puerto Vallarta is important due to a high level of specialization in tourist activities (in particular, hotels), whose markets exist on a national and international scale. As such, the dynamic of centralization14 is subject to the strength of this activity. The annual average rate of growth over the index of centrality for branches of the tourism sector in Puerto Vallarta is among the highest, comparable to the rate for the Metropolitan Zone of Guadalajara, at 4.2% from 1998-2003.

11 Technical document (December 5, 2007) that includes norms regarding territorial zoning.

12 The process of conurbation is indicative of the economic, populational and physical growth of the city, by which surrounding areas, which were previously limited to non-urban land usage, are incorporated or integrated. Transportation corridors further reinforce the use of these areas for urban purposes. Corridors and transportation routes physically connect these areas with the farthest urban zones.

13 Cited by Carrillo, S. (2007).

14 S., Carrillo (2007:8) explains how centrality is estimated: "it is indirectly calculated by adding the proportions of the population employed in various highly-specialized service sector activities for each city with respect to the total western region. To a certain extent, these persons satisfy the external demand of the city where they are located. The formula is as follows: (WPij / WPir), where: WPij=Working population in sector i (or subsector or branch) for city j. WPir = working population in sector i (or subsector or branch) for the western region. The sources used are economic censuses from 1986, 1994, 1999 and 2004 (all use data from the previous year, respectively). This sum of proportions is sensitive to increased or decreased disaggregation of activity categories. In this way, cities with high participation in highly specific or specialized activities (with a lower number of establishments and a reduced number of those employed) will have a greater centrality index, despite the fact that they may have a relatively smaller total working population (or number of establishments). The calculation selectively uses sectors or branches of activity that are more likely to represent a function of centrality and whose development is defined as a function not only of local demand, but also of regional and even international demand.

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 195 October-December 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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