Tourism is booming in Oaxaca state. But while this is great for the local economy, the effect on the environment and communities can be detrimental.
In response, several local tourist service providers have united under the banner of Costa Magia, the first community-supported ecotourism operator on the Oaxaca coast. It strives to promote sustainable tourism and protect Oaxaca’s coast and culture from further destruction.
According to the Mexico tourist guide Visit-Mexico, over 107 million tourists arrived in the country last year, a new record. This increase in tourism is expected to continue, and Mexico foresees even higher numbers by the end of 2023.
The massive increase is due to Mexico’s enormous investment in the tourism industry, investment that has been used to improve infrastructure, build new hotels and resorts, and develop more tourist attractions and activities.
Mexico is seen as a very affordable destination for tourists compared to places like the Caribbean or Europe, and is famous for its great weather, beautiful beaches, rich culture, and world-class cuisine.
This year Oaxaca state has been nominated as Mexico’s Leading Destination in the World Travel Awards, the most recognized tourism industry awards in the world. In addition, Puerto Escondido has been nominated for Leading Adventure Tourism Destination, an award that Puerto Morelos, between Cancún and Playa del Carmen, has won for the last four years. (You can vote for the awards here.)
One of the reasons tourism is so popular in Oaxaca is the state’s abundance of biodiversity. Oaxaca truly is a nature-lover’s paradise.
Mexico is on the list of the five megadiverse countries in the world, and Oaxaca is the state with the most biodiversity.
Of the 22,350 known plant species in Mexico, 8,400 are found here. It has a total of 1,431 species of terrestrial vertebrates (including birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians), equivalent to 50% of the species present in the country.
Of the 1,100 species of birds that live or temporarily migrate to Mexico, 736 inhabit Oaxaca as do 148 of the 451 mammals.
Of the 808 species of reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes, and crocodiles) registered nationwide, 245 are found in the state.
In contrast, Oaxaca is also on the list of the three states — Chiapas and Guerrero are the other two — with a “very high” marginalization index.
This index is a summary measure that makes it possible to differentiate the states and municipalities of the country according to the global impact of the deficiencies suffered by the population due to lack of access to education, adequate housing, living in small towns, and minimum income.
And that’s where Costa Magia comes in.
It supports local communities in Oaxaca to succeed in sustainable tourism ventures by giving them the necessary skills and knowledge.
Its mission is to conserve biodiversity and culture by working with Oaxacan tourist services and encouraging tourists to protect the environment.
Based in Puerto Escondido and made up of 12 tourism enterprises on the Oaxaca coast, Costa Magia is supported by an organized group of civilians and the Oaxacan Fund for the Conservation of Nature.
The 12 tourism services are:
- Adventure and Ecotourism, Lagunas de Chacahua
- Manialtepec Ecotourism, just outside Puerto Escondido
- ViveMar, the turtle release program at Bacocho, plus a large-scale environmental protection program
- La Ventanilla, an eco-tour experience near Mazunte, focussed on the protection of crocodiles and white-tailed deer
- Lagarto Real, an eco-tour experience near Mazunte focussed on a mangrove reforestation program
- Puerto Ángel Dive Center
- Yoo Nashi, ecotourism experience and accommodation near Huatulco
- Huatulco Salvaje, ecotourism experiences in Huatulco
- Rancho Tangolunda, adventure tourism in Huatulco
- Las Ninfas Ecoturística, ecotourism experiences in Huatulco
- Sendero El Candelabro, an ecotourism ranch at Copalito, near Huatulco
- Tortuguero Huatulco, a sea turtle protection sanctuary.
The activities that the operators provide include mangrove safaris and reforestation, the release and monitoring of sea turtles, the observation and monitoring of birds, crocodiles and marine mammals, horseback riding, snorkeling and diving, interpretive hiking, ATV tours and rafting, gastronomic experiences and tours.
Costa Magia is directed and operated by the local businesses themselves, without any intermediary involved, allowing the economic flow to benefit only the people of the Oaxaca coast.
Conservation is its fundamental pillar: Costa Magia strongly believes that tourist activities should have as little environmental impact as possible and, to a certain extent, contribute to the regeneration of ecosystems.
When you visit Costa Magia, you will be able to observe that many of the tourism experiences also have eco-techniques that help reduce environmental impact, such as wood-saving stoves, biofilters for wastewater treatment, energy generation systems through solar cells, dry toilets, separation of solid waste and others.
With its activities, Costa Magia seeks to influence tourists so that they commit to caring for natural resources and contribute to the fight against climate change when they return home.
The organization also invites tourists who visit Oaxaca’s coast to choose service providers that have the care and protection of the environment and sustainable development among their values.
- You can reach Costa Magia at: (954) 113 5809; Facebook and Instagram: @costamagia; web: www.costamagia.com; email: email@example.com.
El Sol de Puerto