Tourism As A Development Strategy In The — страница 8

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tradition and culture of the pre-hispanic people and Spanish conquistadors, together with traits of the modern world. Various marks have been left on the landscape of the prehispanic Zapotec and Mixtec civilisations, whilst there remains clear manifestations of the colonial period with magnificent architecture. Despite new and elegant hotels and other expressions of modernity, the region remains Indian at heart. Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico. The inequalities evident between North and South are enhanced by the region’s virtual isolation and almost disconnection from the rest of the country. This remoteness caused Oaxaca’s almost absence from the Revolution. In the 1920’s, financial crises in the state, followed by an earthquake in 1931, devastated the

region. When the rest of Mexico was experiencing the economic miracle from the 1940’s, when industrialisation and economic growth soared, Oaxaca lagged behind. When the debt crisis hit Mexico in 1982, economic growth halted and inflation escalated, Oaxaca felt it, but not as harshly as the rest of the country (Murphy & Stepick, 1991, p. 79). First impressions of Oaxaca are not of the Third World, but underlying indicators of high malnutrition, infant mortality, illiteracy, unemployment, etc. imply a poor and underdeveloped region. However, in the `colonias populares’ the poor living conditions are visibly evident. Population has multiplied four-fold and now the city has a population of about 300,000, and rural villagers continue to migrate to the city in search of

employment (SEDETUR, 1994), a distinct characteristic of the Third World. The region’s economy is based on small-scale, market-oriented agriculture, based in Indian villages where family businesses have built up artisan handicraft production, altogether ensuring the city’s dependence on its surrounding region. The city is the commercial centre and has increased the flow of goods in and out of the region, expanding its links with the rest of the country. These inequalities have been exacerbated by the lack of industrialisation in the area, Oaxaca City produces 1 % of Mexico’s total industrial goods (Murphy & Stepick, 1991, p. 79). Oaxaca’s hindrance to industrial development is mainly caused by its geographical isolation. Links to Mexico City are crucial for

industrialisation and the range of rugged mountains means rail and highway transportation is slow. This lack of national market, together with the lack of agricultural surplus, mineral production and other resources such as water and electricity; and limited access to capital has meant the omission of Oaxaca in Mexico’s path to industrialisation (Murphy & Stepick, 1991, p. 85). Foreign investment into Oaxacan manufacturing extends only to bottling soft drinks. It is all of the above factors that have fostered the decision of the regional and national government, as in other Third World countries, to promote the growth of tourism as a means of developing the region and stimulating economic and social growth. Oaxaca’s service industry has grown since the 1960’s and

1970’s and now it plays a very important role in the economic profile of the whole state. The resolution of tourism as a development strategy is becoming more popular with Third World governments, using different aspects of their country to attract visitors, from safaris in Kenya, to reef diving in Belize. Since an increased government involvement since the 1970’s, Oaxaca has realized its potential and has been taking advantage of its preconquest archaeological sites, colonial architecture, villagers producing handicrafts and stunning beach resorts, to entice the tourists. The specific areas that this dissertation is concerned with are Oaxaca City and the Central Valleys; the Pacific coastal resorts of Puerto Escondido and Puerto Ángel and a little further south the new

mega-resort of Bahías de Huatulco. These areas are completely contrasting in their approach to tourism and the people that they attract. 4.2 – TOURISM IN OAXACA CITY AND THE CENTRAL VALLEYS In 1987, the historic centre of Oaxaca was officially declared to belong to the Heritage of Mankind by UNESCO. The city is commonly used as a base to tour the region and its many attractions. In the city itself (Fig. 4.21), many old colonial buildings have been transformed into hotels, restaurants and handicraft shops. The zócalo (main plaza) is the geographical and social heart of Oaxaca, beautifully shaded, traffic free, lined with cafés and restaurants and street vendors, this area attracts many people for strolling, band concerts and people-watching. The north side of the zócalo is