Mazatlan's tourism and real estate boom
When you visit Mazatlan these days, you will be surprised at the pace, and number, of large-scale hotel and condominium building construction taking place in the city.
There is no doubt that these large investments are indicative that the port will grow even more in the years 2020 and 2021, which will lead it to consolidate itself as the most important tourist center in the Mexican North Pacific, competing strongly with Puerto Vallarta, if not surpassing it.
At the same time, official figures from the State Government show a significant increase in the number of tourists, both national and foreign, arriving in the city in 2019. According to them, Mazatlan received close to 3 million tourists, most of them -- 80% -- of national origin, with an average occupation of 54%.
Experts in the field, say that the opening of the road Mazatlan-Durango, increased the flow of tourists from that state, Coahuila, and Chihuahua.
In addition, it overcame the wave of violence that hit the city in 2010 and 2011, which drove away tourism mainly from North America and Canada. International cruise ships even stopped coming to the port for the same reason, although the most recent figures show a remarkable recovery.
In 2018, the port received 667,000 foreign tourists, according to the Sinaloa-based magazine, HUB Negocios, while in 2019 the figure was over 400,000.
One of the reasons for the drop in foreign tourists was undoubtedly the capture operations of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. The first one occurred in a hotel in Mazatlan, in 2014, and the second one in Los Mochis, in February 2016, which gave a bad image to the state and the city. In 2015, foreign tourism fell dramatically to 198,000 visitors.
The economic and social impact of growth
However, the momentum of construction of large condominiums and hotels, drives a remarkable social optimism, because there is employment and a strong economic movement that is palpable in a city that grows, modernizes and redesigns, as seen in the development called "Mazatlan North", which has modern roads, large green areas and a good number of first-class condominiums.
The population figures for 2017, say that the city has a population of just over 500,000 inhabitants, which will surely increase in the short term, which surely has already been exceeded.
However, the dizzying growth may cause significant urban problems and services of drinking water, drainage and vehicular traffic that can already be seen in the so-called Golden Zone, where many hotels are concentrated.
About this situation, Carlos Berdegué, president of the hotel group El Cid, one of the best known inside and outside Mazatlan, who warned that one "of the great challenges I see is that Mazatlan will be saturated by (the) condominiums," which may cause that "public services will not be sufficient to meet this explosion of condominiums, especially in areas where we will have problems of saturation, traffic, serious problems," he told the magazine HUB Business.
In addition, he pointed out "that we are not necessarily studying what will happen with this oversupply that will occur with these condominiums", since "they will become direct competition for the established hotel industry".
The hotelier called on government authorities to study the situation and develop measures to attack the problem before it gets out of control.
The municipal authorities seem to be aware of the problem, but so far there is no known urban planning program to address the situation.
Last November, the city's public works director, Juan de Dios Garay, asked the Municipal Planning Institute to regularize the real estate development of Mazatlán's northern zone, which is growing rapidly, without neglecting the regulations that seek sustainable development while respecting green areas.
The official warned that care must be taken with the rainwater drainage that naturally exists, as well as generates roads that encourage the flow of vehicles.
"This great area, our request was that they analyze it and could establish a series of regulations in terms of main roads and storm drainage that would allow the development of this area to be ordered because Mazatlan suffers in this area of the necessary provisions for things to work safely and with quality," he explained, according to what the newspaper Debate reported.
Important tourist areas suffer from flooding problems due to the lack of rainwater drainage.
He also said to take measures thinking in the future so that there is a "harmonious development, which did not happen in the development of our city in the past.
The crossroads facing Mazatlán is clear, as some authorities and hoteliers warn: as a major tourist area, it is to ensure that the rapid growth of hotels and condominiums does not become an obstacle to the viability of tourism and urban efficiency.