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Tourism development on the north Yucatan coast: Human response to shoreline erosion and hurricanes

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Abstract

The barrier coast of north Yucatan has been evolving into a beachfront recreational landscape since the introduction of passenger rail service between Mérida and Progreso in 1881. Beginning in the 1950's, middle-class vacation home construction spread laterally outward from Progreso, and even distal fishing and salt-gathering villages became engulfed by a recreational landuse overlay. In spite of geomorphic evidence of marine transgression, such as dune scarps and washover fans, the focus of recreational urbanization has been the beachfront. And although attempts at retarding shore erosion have taken place since the 1960s, hazard perception has remained generally low until the late 1980s. When Hurricane Gilbert blew across the Yucatan peninsula in 1988, damage to beachfront structures, highways, boats, and salt ponds was extensive. The barrier environment exhibited extensive overwashing and breaching, especially in areas of human modification, and the lagoon ecosystem experienced considerable ecologic disruption. Because the north Yucatan coast is a locus of domestic tourism, and the thousands of uninsured summer homes are owned largely by members of Mérida's middle class, reconstruction since Gilbert has been slow. Incipient trends of international tourism development have slowed since 1988.

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Maps and Aerial Photographs

  1. Companía Aerofoto Mexicano: Progreso and vicinity, black-and-white aerial photographs, 1:30,000, Flight No. 328, 1948.

  2. Companía Aerofoto Mexicano: Progreso and vicinity, black-and-white aerial photographs, 1:25,000, Flight No. 2685, 1978.

  3. Dirección General de Geografía (Mexico), Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática [topographic maps: Hunucmá (F16C41), 1:50,000, 1985; Puerto Progreso (F16C32), 1:50,000, 1985; Tizimín (F16-7), 1:250,000, 1982]

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Meyer-Arendt, K.J. Tourism development on the north Yucatan coast: Human response to shoreline erosion and hurricanes. GeoJournal 23, 327–336 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00193606

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Keywords

  • Tourism Development
  • Yucatan Peninsula
  • Marine Transgression
  • Salt Pond
  • Shoreline Erosion