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

As the "Zoning Program for the Inter-state Metropolitan Zone of Puerto Vallarta-Bahía de Banderas" explains, the precursor to this project came out in 1999 when nine states of the Western Central Region (WCR) initiated a "regional development promotion process." The following states participated: Aguascalientes, Colima, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas.17

The agreements between the state of Jalisco and Nayarit were even ratified through the National Urban Development Plan for Territorial Zoning (pndu-ot 2001-2006), with the purpose of implementing strategic programs and projects to catalyze inter-state regional development in keeping with the specific economic vocation of the mesoregion (interstate regions with tourist activity).

The interstate plans and programs headed up by the governments of Nayarit and Jalisco are positioned within this mesoregional management dynamic: the Jalisco and Nayarit Coastal Zone Program and the Master Plan for Urban Tourist Development of Bahía Banderas and Puerto Vallarta.

The justification for implementing these interstate programs is explained by the fact that the bordering municipalities of Bahía de Banderas and Puerto Vallarta bring about growth based on the centrality that Puerto Vallarta exercises over its zone of influence (Merchand, M., 2008). Independent of the benefits and disadvantages of the ipc,18 the investments announced and carried out in part by the three levels of government (federal, state and local) are relevant not only for their economic significance but also for the regional strategies that the State implemented to spark the development of the so-called tourist corridor. As I have already mentioned, the political instrument that formalized the State's commitment to promote the tourism corridor is called the Zoning Program for the Inter-state Metropolitan Zone of Puerto Vallarta-Bahía de Banderas. Of course, the Ministry of Tourism (2007), which manages the financial resources used to launch the so-called tourism corridor of Puerto Vallarta-Bahía de Banderas, reinforces the idea to link this corridor with future investment from the federal State, which drives the tourism corridor.

The tourism corridor of Puerto Vallarta-Bahía de Banderas-Compostela-San Blas was conceived to promote the following sectors: golf, nature tourism, culture, water sports, and real estate. The corridor will be outfitted with the best services and communication routes. As such, it is predicted that it will become a modern and highly competitive tourist destination along Mexico's Pacific coast in the years to come.

To solidify these projects, officials from the Ministry of Tourism, from the federal government and from the National Tourism Promotion Fund (Fonatur), estimate that the conurbation of Puerto Vallarta and Bahía de Banderas will receive investments of up to 485.10 mdd (millions of dollars) in infrastructure between 2007 to 2015; 241.42 will come from the federal government, 132.31 from the state government and 101.83 from the local government. The plan, in keeping with the idea to construct Integrally Planned Centers (ipc), is to build the centers on a territorial reserve of 435 hectares. The Nayarit ipc would have 10,000 habitable rooms and two 18-hole golf courses. The Litibú ipc would have beach clubs, shopping and entertainment centers, and a regionally themed water park. The Nayarit ipc would have two sections, Capomo and Litibú. The first stage of public investment from Fonatur would be for 63.7 mdd. According to data from Fonatur, 90% of the estimated amount has already been invested.19

However, the advantages that the State is advertising for the region's inhabitants and the sustainability they hope to achieve with the ipc projects does not coincide with outside opinions that state that the potential benefits are unlikely to be realized. The Green Coast Alliance,20 a group that brings together various regional non-governmental organizations, has systematically challenged the project, not only for the plan's inconsistencies, but also for its rapid implementation in a naturally fragile region.

Moreover, ecologists linked to the Green Coast Alliance also emphasize the plan's inconsistencies. They foresee a construction density of up to 60 habitable rooms per hectare and 6 stories, despite the fact that the Urban Development Plan only predicts four stories and 25 habitable rooms. The Green Coast Alliance has indicated a series of missing information in the plan: the Litibú project does not layout the cumulative impacts that the region will face as a result of the tourism center. The plan calls for illegally elevated density and lacks areas destined for public services and green spaces. The land was sold before approval of the partial plan, and "there are no collective roads that divide the condominiums and hotels." Finally, it is unclear whether the right to free access to the sea will be respected, as is established in Mexico's constitution.

17 The "Zoning Program" cites a September 2 agreement between the secretaries of Urban Development for the Western and Central-Northern Regions, made to formulate and execute a regional strategy of territorial zoning.

18 An economic evaluation of the positive and negative effects of the ipc would have to be carried out. However, this analysis is beyond the scope of the current study.

19 The governor of Nayarit (Ney González Sánchez) explained the surge of new tourist destinations, such as those that are underway in the Litibú and Capomo complexes, which are part of the Nayarit Integrally Planned Center. According to the governor, the first stage of construction will be for the Litibú complex, which is located 2 kilometers away from Punta Mita and will have 4,100 housing units. Of these, 910 will be tourist residences. The second phase will be carried out in the Capomo complex, and will include 5,900 housing units. Beyond the tourist advantages that this project brings, he also explained that the Integrally Planned Center will implement a series of high level tourism developments, in combination with community development and wide social benefits. All of this is part of a master plan that encompasses the municipalities of Bahía de Banderas, Compostela and San Blas. This plan is oriented towards high-income markets. As such, the plans include golf, nature activities, water sports and vacation homes, taking advantage of the rapid tourism growth dynamic with low impact on the natural environment. 20 http://www.verdebandera.com/20087017litib-el-megaproyecto-cuestionado-del.html.

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 194 July-September 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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