Ajijic has thrown its hat into the ring for Pueblo Mágico status.
On November 17, Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism (Sectur) opened the convocation for the 2018 “Magic Town” program. By November 20, Chapala Tourism Director Habath Angel Orozco had already uploaded preliminary documentation on the federal agency’s registration platform.
Later in the week, Chapala Mayor Javier Degollado gained the approval of the Jalisco legislature required to secure state funding for the bid.
Additional material, including a three-year tourism development plan, will be submitted according to established guidelines and timetables.
The Pueblo Mágico designation was launched in 2001 to promote towns that offer visitors a “magical” experience – by way of their natural beauty, cultural riches or historical relevance.
Sectur defines these towns as places that “through time and into the modern day has conserved, valued and defended its historic, cultural and natural legacy, as manifested in diverse expressions through its tangible and intangible patrimony.”
So will Ajijic pass muster? There is a lot to consider.
On the one hand, the town no longer fits the description of a sleepy fishing village touted in Mexico tourist guides of yesteryear. It is now a bustling community that lacks a homogenous architectural style, significant historic monuments, traditional craft industry and distinctive gastronomy. It seems to have lost much of its original identity with new constructions that have replaced the simple adobe and tile roof homes of earlier times. The charm of cobblestone streets has vanished under the wear and tear of heavy traffic. It has become cluttered with street vendors, a hodgepodge of commercial signage, and unsightly bags of trash piled on curbs and corners.
Among the attributes working in the town’s favor are the natural setting on the shores of Mexico’s largest lake, an idyllic climate that appeals to visitors, colorful festivities and a vibrant arts community. It also seems to meet Sectur’s criteria for public security, health care and hospitality services, as well as transportation connectivity for the convenience of travelers.
According to Orozco, Sectur will evaluate the municipal government’s documentation prior to issuing an initial eligibility finding in early February. If all goes well, an on-site inspection will be scheduled the following month.
The benefits of becoming a Pueblo Magico include access to federal funds for tourism infrastructure improvements, including the preservation of historical sites, the diversification of tourist attractions, the creation and modernization of tourist-related businesses, greater publicity, and an increase in jobs and local revenue.
Jalisco currently has seven tourist destinations included the country’s roster of 111 Pueblos Mágicos: Lagos de Moreno, Mascota, Mazamitla, San Sebastián del Oeste, Talpa de Allende, Tapalpa, and Tequila. It is expected that Ajijic will be competing with Tlaquepaque and the state’s chile de arbol capital Yahualica for a new magic town title.