We have made a selection of various sustainable tourism projects that we consider successful cases in some regions of Mexico. These include community initiatives, tourist destinations and multinational companies that have recognized the value of sustainable tourism and have taken specific actions to become leaders in this segment in the country. Like these, there are many others in Mexico who have identified a change in tourists' habits of consumption and who understand that being sustainable is no longer just a fad, or a transitory competitive advantage, but rather that it will soon be the new norm for tourism all over the world.
Community Tours Sian Ka’an
Location Sian Ka’an, Quintana Roo
This is a community alliance of tourist services that offers tours in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, one of Mexico’s marine sanctuaries. The objective is to keep most of the income in the communities. The tours include walks along mangroves, bird watching of up to 300 species, and immersions into cenotes (sinkholes) and lagoons that guarantee an adventure that is not only thrilling but also committed to environmental education. www.siankaantours.org
Pueblos Mancomunados de la Sierra Norte
Location Sierra Norte, Oaxaca
This is an area made up of eight towns settled high in Oaxaca’s Sierra Norte: Benito Juárez, La Nevería, Cuajimoloyas, Llano Grande, Latuvi, Lachatao, Amatlán and Yavesia. Traditions and customs in these Zapotec towns – self-named “the people of the clouds” due to the wind from the Gulf of Mexico that carries cloudiness – are revealed in tours that make up the first network of walking and cycling routes in the Oaxaca mountains, as well as zip line and horseback riding. www.sierranorte.org.mx
Fairmont Mayakoba, Rosewood Mayakoba & Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Location Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo
A luxury hotel complex located in the region of Mayakoba, in the Riviera Maya, that implements successful tourism management practices; the three hotels that make up the resort are connected by channels that transport guests to achieve an ecological balance. The semi-virgin natural environment favors activities such as nature walks, zip line tours through the jungle and diving in cenotes. www.fairmont.com/mayakoba
Hacienda Chichen Resort
Location Chichen Itza, Yucatan
An exquisite spa boutique hotel, that brings together the natural conservation of its reserve with the preservation of Maya traditions and worldview. It offers a range of eco-activities such as visits to archaeological zones, immersion into cenotes, visits to natural caves, bird watching and tours into Colonial history. Its restaurant offers organic product dishes, and the spa has treatments and massages with regional ingredients, as well as Maya healing rituals. www.haciendachichen.com
Huatulco Green Globe
Location Huatulco, Oaxaca
Fonatur’s Centro Integralmente Planeado (CIP, Integrally Planned Center) in Huatulco is the third tourist community in the world, and the first one in America, to achieve the Green Globe environmental certification that recognizes the commitment to function with the highest environmental standards; it includes the correct way to use water, waste management, and efficient energy use, as well as biodiversity care. www.greenglobe.com.mx
The Lodge at Chichen Itza
Location Chichen Itza, Yucatán
Set up in 40 hectares of gardens right in the heart of this Mayan archaeological site, the hotel stands out because of the tranquility, utmost privacy and spectacular views that guests are afforded. It has Mayan-style bungalows surrounded by semi-virgin nature. It also has implemented a sustainability project for hotels, certified by Rainforest Alliance. www.mayaland.com
Hotel Eco Paraíso
Location Celestún, Yucatán
This is an eco-hotel whose philosophy is focused on sustainability, in eco-tourist awareness and the love of untouched nature. It offers its guests the rediscovery of “inner self”, as well as high quality and simplicity in its services, combined with virgin beach areas, endemic animals and plants, and interesting excursions.
Its modern architectural design, efficient client service and grandiose gastronomy make this a once in a lifetime experience. www.ecoparaiso.com
Visit Sian Ka’an
Location Tulum, Quintana Roo
This place offers unforgettable vacations where tourists help to protect and conserve local ecosystems and wildlife. It is focused on operating tours for small groups, in order to minimize the environmental impact. The organization employs only local guides, with the purpose of improving the quality of life of nearby communities. The company is based on the principles of UNESCO’S MAB (Man and the Biosphere) program.
They are completely committed to the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas guidelines for reef ecosystem management plan. www.visitsiankaan.com
The Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI)
Location Sian Ka’an, Quintana Roo
This initiative is a joint effort by the tourist industry, various NGOs and the Quintana Roo state government. Their objective is to significantly reduce the environmental footprint of the tourist industry and to maximize its contribution to the protection and conservation of the Mesoamerican Reef ecosystem.
Among the main goals of MARTI, the following stand out:
- Achieving an important change in the planning, designing and building of hotels and tourist facilities in the Mesoamerican Reef area.
- Working with hoteliers and tourist service providers to adopt good environmental operation practices.
- Working with cruise ship lines, sea service providers and the civil society to adopt and apply practices to prevent possible negative impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems.
Eco-Hotel El Rey del Caribe
Location Cancun, Quintana Roo
This small hotel, located in downtown Cancun, has an environmental management plan based on the use of water heaters that function with solar energy, garbage recycling, rain water capture, and even the use of an unusual clothes drier that also works with solar energy. It also serves as a school, where students from every level can learn about eco-friendly techniques that are being used. Each visit to the hotel includes a talk on the environment, to develop or increase environmental consciousness.
Among other activities for community support, the weekly offer of workshops and conferences stands out, as well as motivational and self-help talks. They also strive for the rescue and conservation of indigenous traditions, particularly those of Maya and Nahuatl cultures. www.reycaribe.com
Location Cancun, Quintana Roo
The Punta Verde project has been in place for several years, with the intention of integrating communitarian tourist offers in the north of Quintana Roo. The intention is that, through an integrating network, routes of up to seven days can be enjoyed through the natural wonders in different communities. Attractions in the towns include cenotes (sinkholes), lagoons, caves, jungles, wildlife sightings, and millenary trees.
Members of the community and the organizing groups are well equipped to develop different activities, such as cycling, kayak, zip-line and rappel. There can also be visits to productive and handcraft workshops. www.puertaverde.com.mx
Centro Ecoturismo “La Escobilla”/Santuario de la Tortuga
Location Santa Maria Tonameca, Oaxaca
The Cooperative Society Sanctuary for Turtles “La Escobilla” was founded in 2004. Integrated by 12 active members, it carries out activities in conservation and provides ecotourism services.
The company is concerned with the environment, the sustainable use of natural resources, and the conservation of different flora and fauna species, particularly the gulf species of marine turtle. Through ecotourism, they seek to foster an ecological culture among members, the community and visitors.
The center offers services such as:
- Guided visits to the Turtle Sanctuary.
- Camping areas.
- Accommodations in cabaĖas.
- Canoe trips.
- Environmental education workshops.
Hacienda Puerta Campeche
Location Campeche, Campeche
A series of houses in the 17th Century Baroque style were united, restored and converted into a modern luxury hotel of 15 rooms, which even deserved the recognition of the world’s highest authorities in design.
It is recognized as World Heritage site by UNESCO. Both its history and its role in the communities make this a development that is the only one of its kind. The hotel belongs to Grupo Plan, a pioneering company in sustainable tourism in the Yucatan Peninsula. This group promotes the conservation of world legacy, sustainable tourism and the economic development of communities. 90% of its collaborators belong to the location, thus supporting the work of seniors and fostering the development of local suppliers.
Rainforest2Reef/Calakmul Biosphere Reserve
Location 210 km southeast of Campeche, Campeche
It is a non-profit organization devoted to the conservation of the biological corridor that spans from the Calakmul and Sian Ka’an reserves to the Mesoamerican Reef. Rainforest2Reef’s mission is to protect biodiversity, maintain the services of ecosystems and stall climate change to protect tropical forests, reefs and corridors that connect endangered habitats.
This is achieved by working with local communities to ecologically protect natural spaces through new mechanisms, using scientific research through sound, monitoring protected areas, and developing activities that improve the quality of life of local communities. www.rainforest2reef.org
Nahá Campamento Ecoturístico Canan K’ax
LocationLacandon Forest, Ocosingo, Chiapas
It is a tourist center located on the edge of the Lacandon community of Naha, which conserves its Mayan cultural characteristics within a natural protected area.
Among the activities of biological and cultural conservation, establishing xate palm nurseries is one, with the goal of minimizing its illegal extraction and thus preventing the reduction of natural populations. Likewise, there are actions undertaken for restoration of pine forests near the Ocotalito Lagoon, a site of interest for lovers of aquatic habitat birds. There is also organic coffee production; the camp contributes by purchasing this product and offering it within its facilities. www.turismoenchiapas.com
Mesoamerican Ecotourism Alliance (mea)
Location Chiapas and Yucatán
This is an alliance of local organizations committed to the development and promotion of sustainable tourism as a means to support the conservation efforts in Mesoamerica.
mea operates in Honduras, Panama and Belize, as well as in Chiapas and Yucatán. Members of this organization constitute a society of local communities, the private sector, tourist operators, government, and NGOs. They work jointly with organizations in charge of protected areas, thus creating unique itineraries that provide high quality sustainable tours.www.travelwithmea.org
Committed with the care of nature and community development, Finca Cholula is a cocoa plantation where visitors can see every step from the cultivation of this plant to the process used to create the final product.
Among their activities, there are:
- Organic agriculture.
- Activities linked to ecology, such as research on flora, fauna and natural techniques.
- Education and raising awareness for new generations.
- Preservation and diffusion of cultural heritage.