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Beach recovery projects fail, erosion persists

Playa del Carmen, Q.R. — Beach recovery projects dating back as far as 2010 have continually failed to safeguard hotel facilities and beach areas.

During the past week, more than 30 meters of sandbanks in some central Playa del Carmen areas have been washed away due to unfavorable weather.

Riviera Maya president of the Association of Owners Investors and Tourism Services, Lenin Amaro Betancourt, says that more than 200 million dollars in businesses lay between the two ferry docks in central Playa del Carmen alone.

He explains that with the extensive erosion, he is urging the federal government to allocate resources for a barrier reef as part of a comprehensive project of recovery of beaches to reduce the impact of weather events in the coastal area.

President of the National Chamber of Commerce Services and Tourism (Kanak-Servytur) of Playa del Carmen, Pablo Alcocer Góngora, says that hoteliers lacked proper planning when building their facilities along beach areas and instead, focus on economic development.

He noted that the beach recovery project from 2010 was also poorly planned. In 2010, the government invested 100 million dollars to dredge sand to the coastline to repair beach erosion, however, that project was inevitably ruled a failure.

Using experience from that project as a guideline, he suggests generating future projects using the knowledge officials have of the local ecosystem, beaches and streams to plan properly. Instead, he points out that entrepreneurs have lost sight of that part of planning and are focusing on economic dynamics, yet the 2010 project gives them the opportunity to correct those bad decisions.

Amaro Betancourt says that the rescue of beaches is urgent, and should be done before it is too late because it continues to put all the tourist infrastructure along that 1.5 kilometer stretch at risk.

Alcocer Góngora added that in the event a barrier reef is placed, a complete review with corresponding environmental impact studies should be carried out to ensure such a project would not be counterproductive.

Several beachfront businesses have had to pull facilities such as tables and chairs back from what little sand areas remain to allow passage for tourists while others have added sandbags in an attempt to stop further erosion.

Other beachfront places such as Porto Real and El Taj have seen Civil Protection officials cordon off beachfront areas due to sinking sand.

Civil Protection general director, Orlando Muñoz explained, “Erosion is caused by the surf that removes the sand then returns, creating a narrow beach. At night, the surf is calm and the sand back up so we continue to monitor. This situation is from irresponsibility that all the businesses are very near the beaches.”

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