Mexico City - President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced this week an even more ambitious proposal for the Yucatan Peninsula 'Mayan Train' that would extend its route - and significantly increase the project's cost.
The original plan was for the tourist train to run 520 miles (830 kilometers) - from the beach resort city of Cancun down through Tulum to the Mayan ruins of Palenque - and was expected to cost 100 billion pesos.
The new plan adds a western spur that would extend the route to 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) and include stops in Mérida and Valladolid in Yucatán and three more in Campeche, at an estimated cost of between 120 billion and 150 billion pesos.
Lopez Obrador said the new Mayan train project would be financed over six years through both public and private investment, and would be completed in four years "at the latest." Since most of the route lies on land already owned by the federal government, some of the funds will come from tourism taxes, which he said generate some 7 billion pesos a year.
The initial plan was for the Mayan Train to connect some of the Yucatan Peninsula's most popular tourism destinations - the heavily traveled tourism route of Cancun-Riviera Maya-Chichen Itza-Xcaret visited by millions of tourists every year - but AMLO's new proposal is all about getting visitors off the beaten track.
The extended route will give those who want more than just sun and sand the opportunity to explore the jungles, wildlife reserves, pre-Hispanic archaeological sites, wetlands and underground rivers in the Yucatan Peninsula's southern regions; and the chance to shop for locally made handicrafts and sample regional foods in colonial cities known for their European-influenced architecture.
"This will greatly stimulate tourism and create jobs in the southeast, which is one of the world's most culturally rich areas, yet the most neglected region of the country," Lopez Obrador said.Sources: El Financiero • sipse.com