Sustainable Tourism in Mexico

Sustainable Tourism in Mexico

Each year, increasing numbers of tourists are enticed by Mexico’s pristine beaches, buzzing metropolises and archaeological wonders (and we don’t blame them). Accounting for over eight per cent of Mexico’s total GDP in the last decade, tourism plays an important part in the country’s economy. And as Mexico rightfully becomes a bucket-list destination, sustainable tourism is crucial for helping to preserve its rich Indigenous culture and biodiversity. Luckily, the Central American nation has plenty to offer the eco-conscious traveller. Keep your conscience clear with our round-up of ways to practice sustainable tourism in Mexico.


1. Undertourism in Mexico
2. Philantourism in Mexico
3. Community-based tourism in Mexico
4. Indigenous tourism in Mexico
5. Flight-free travel in Mexico



Undertourism in Mexico

Want to avoid the crowds but not miss out on Mexico’s beauty? Enter Undertourism: a concept encouraging travellers to explore lesser-known regions, for the benefit of tourists and destinations alike. Consider alternatives to the tourist-laden beach resorts of Cancun, like the culture-rich city Merida, located just a short drive from the Mayan city of Chichen Itza and the glittering Yucatan coast. Explore Puebla’s historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage site not far from Mexico City yet far less popular with tourists. Or head to Mexico’s Pacific Coast for a quieter alternative to the Caribbean Coast and relax in laid-back surf towns such as Puerto Escondido. It might be a Mexican standoff between the beach and the city, but when it comes to sustainable tourism in Mexico, it’s a win-win situation.



Philantourism in Mexico

A key part of our mission to make travel a force for good, Philantourism is all about choosing a destination that will benefit the most from tourism. Shopping, eating and staying local in Mexico will help economies not only survive, but thrive. Another way to practice Philantourism in Mexico is to visit one of its 40 UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserves: protected areas for the conservation of biodiversity and culture. Visit Sian Ka’an on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, and you’ll help fund conservation programs focused on the natural world and cultural tradition. You might spot the evasive jaguar, manatees or one of 300 species of bird. And if you fancy a souvenir from your Mexican adventure? Whether it’s a macabre Catrinas de Muerte (Day of the Dead) figurine from Capula, or a richly embroidered shawl made by artisan women in Patzcuaro, make sure it is locally made.


Image by Jackie Cole


Community-based tourism in Mexico

Interacting with local communities while on your travels is one of the most enriching parts of sustainable tourism in Mexico. Community-based tourism focuses on learning about and preserving traditional ways of life by engaging with all that communities have to offer. Meet and learn from local artists in the workshops of Morelia, or watch four generations of one family craft copper works of art in Santa Clara del Cobre. A regional cooking class is another great way to get involved with the community, and where better than in Oaxaca, the culinary capital of Mexico? Impress with your cooking skills (no pressure) and learn your empanadas from your tamales in a region awarded UNESCO’s Intangible Culinary Heritage status for its gastronomic delights.



Indigenous tourism in Mexico

Home to 68 different ethnic groups, Mexico is one of the most ethnically diverse countries on the planet. From el Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead), a Nahua and Aztec tradition, to the Mayan archaeological sites scattered across the Yucatan Peninsula, Indigenous tradition is ingrained in Mexico’s cultural landscape. The Nahuas are the largest group, indigenous to Mexico City and the central region, while the Mayas and Zapotecs take the second and third spots. Responsible Indigenous tourism ensures that traditional ways of life continue to thrive. There are plenty of ways to get involved in Mexico, be it perusing the Indigenous markets of Oaxaca or visiting Teotitlan del Valle to learn how Indigenous groups weave traditional rugs. We can also organise lunch in a Zapotec family's home, where you can discover the secrets of authentic Oaxacan cuisine in an intimate setting.



Flight-free travel in Mexico

While you’ll have to hop on a flight to visit this Central American nation, sustainable tourism in Mexico can begin as soon as you touch down. Flight-free travel is all about enjoying life in the slow lane, and there’s no better embodiment of this than a road trip. Take advantage of Mexico’s border with the USA and begin your trip in California. Forgo flying and drive across the border into the Baja California peninsula, marvelling at its rugged beauty from your window. If you’d rather start in Mexico, fulfil your road trip fantasies as you cruise the country’s coastlines, complete with views of sparkling turquoise horizons, or journey across the Yucatan peninsula for jungle-clad ruins and abundant wildlife.


Written by Hannah Whitehall | Header image by Alix Pardo