How Did We Get Here?
Mexico seems like such an obvious choice as a tourist destination (Beaches! Pyramids! Colonial cities! Indigenous cultures! Exotic cuisine! Art! Crafts!) that one forgets that it was not always such. In the 19th and much of the 20th century, the beaches were in the Mediterranean, the pyramids in Egypt, the exotic food (snails! frogs legs!) in France. Thanks to the infrastructure – trains, hotels, tour guides – traveling in Europe and Egypt was a lot easier, even for an American, than going to Mexico.
Many older foreigners will say they "discovered" Mexico, but in fact, the Mexican government set about creating its tourist industry in the 1930s as a source of foreign revenue following the nationalization of oil. At that time, Cuba was the only place in Latin America with a developed tourist industry, but everything was foreign owned and did not contribute to its economy. The Mexican plan was for the state to contribute to the infrastructure while encouraging the growth of a tourism industry where the money would stay in the country. (The Development of Mexico's Tourism Industry: pyramids by day, martinis by night, by Dina Berger.)
In this issue we visit the Punta of Zicatela, a community of foreigners and Mexicans which owes its existence to the national project of tourist development, but with a uniquely Puerto twist.
Barbara Joan Schaffer
Editor and Publisher
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