Sustainable Tourism Planning and Cross-Sector Partnerships in Small-Scale Fishing Communities: Prospects and Challenges for Viability in Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, Mexico
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The unique biodiversity of the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, located in Yucatan, Mexico, is characterized by abundant mangroves and a very large marine fauna, like birds (e.g., Caribbean pink flamingo, pelicans, and frigatebird), reptiles (e.g., hawksbill sea turtle and green sea turtle) and fish (e.g., red grouper, octopus, spiny lobster, snapper, and shrimp). The reserve was established in 2004 and it is considered of intrinsic and economic value in Mexico and in the world. Ría Lagarto’s ecosystems provide a variety of resources viable for different activities, such as fishing, salt extraction, agriculture, livestock, and tourism. Fishing has historically been a key component of economic development in Yucatan's coastal zones and the towns surrounding Ría (El Cuyo, San Felipe, Río Lagartos, and Las Coloradas). Similarly, tourism has emerged as one of the region's most important sectors in recent years. The flamingo nesting season in the salt pink lakes of Las Coloradas attracts tourist’s attention every year. Visitors can also choose from a variety of activities including bird watching, fishing, visiting crocodile farms and temples, boat tours, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, hiking, among others. However, tourism practices have been causing economic, environmental, and social issues in the region. The small-fishing sector, in particular, has been significantly affected. Sustainable tourism promotes local and regional development, by integrating the various activities that are carried out in a geographical space, keeping these in harmony with the care of the environment. Additionally, there are different tourism subniches and projects that can be developed in different contexts. Thus, this research examines ways to carefully plan and find viable options for tourism and small-scale fishing communities and prevent economic, social, political, and environmental pressures in San Felipe, Río Lagartos, Las Coloradas, and El Cuyo. I specifically aim to: 1) to examine and understand the extent of tourism and the nature of the small-scale fisheries; 2) to critically analyze the key contributions and adverse impacts resulting from tourism practices in the area; 3) To explore strategies for successful community-based tourism planning to make a transition from vulnerability to viability in Ría’s communities. I elaborated my research based on a case study approach, following a pragmatic paradigm, and using mixed methods with quantitative and qualitative data extracted from secondary literature review. I draw on fisheries management schemes, planning and tourism frameworks, as well as past, current, and future sustainable and community-based government plans. This work identifies challenges and presents possible opportunities through the lens of planning strategies and sustainable development. My research reveals insights on the benefits of strategic planning considering the cultural identity, key strengths, the traditional activities, and main sectors (fishing and tourism), as well as new possible economic trends and markets in the region.
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Valeria Mendoza De La Luz (2021). Sustainable Tourism Planning and Cross-Sector Partnerships in Small-Scale Fishing Communities: Prospects and Challenges for Viability in Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/17556