Harmonic Tourism, Factor of Sustainable Development in the City of Toluca, Mexico

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The problems faced by contemporary society, in particular the environmental issue, surpass the disciplinary limits of traditional science; as Prigogine states "it is time we surrendered the evidence that at any level, nature does not come to an agreement with that classic [paradigm]" or conventional paradigm (1997: 48), and neither does society which, undoubtedly, is ever changing. Contemporary culture faces the expansion of computing systems, industrialization, urbanization and socialization of communicational networks that shape new and complex horizons, which are reflected on the ideological syncretism characteristic of postmodernism. Linked to this, the environmental problem "states the need to internalize an emergent environmental knowledge as a whole of the set of disciplines, both natural and social sciences, in order to build knowledge able to comprehend the multi-causality and the relations of interdependence of the natural and social order' (Leff, 1994:17) where the participation of citizens has a fundamental role. Added to this need of rethinking theoretical and methodological stances are authors such as Healey (1997), Allmendinger (2002) and Abukhater (2009) in the field of planning; while Hiernaux (2003), Hunter (2003), Farell and Twining-Ward, (2004), Panosso (2005), Serrano-Barquin (2008) in the field of tourism, summon to construct new theoretical frameworks and incorporate the sustainability of tourism.

On the other side, tourist activity has become a strategic factor to boost the economy of regions and countries, even as an instrument to help eradicate poverty in marginalized communities (WTO, 2002); it is worth mentioning that even under the effects of economic crisis, in 2008 there were 924 million international tourists, with an annual growth rate above 2% (WTO, 2009); whereas in 2007 it was close to 7% (WTO, 2008), being one of the economic activities with positive growth. In 2008, Mexico received 22 million 637 thousand foreign tourists, 1 million more than those registered in 2007 (SECTUR, 2008); domestic tourism represented 80% of this activity in the country. However, this growth has been insufficient to generate environmental benefits (social and natural) that create better conditions of life for the local population (Barkin, 2001; Gallegos and Lopez, 2004). Because of this harmonic tourism and participant integrative planning are proposed as the instruments that allow reaching Urban Sustainable Development, at the time that urban and rural infrastructure and equipment required for local and regional development are induced.

Unlike, Mexico and Latin America, where there is not balance between urban offer and its demographic demand, many cities in Eastern Europe have expanded their areas of urbanization circa 20%, while their populations have only increased 6% (Zamparutti and Gillespie, 2000), conversely, the Metropolitan Zone of Mexico City grew more than 95% in 30 years, changing from 9 million inhabitants in 1970 to 17 million in 2000 (Garcia Gonzales, 2004). The success of urban development in Europe comes from, among other factors, the diminution of growth rates, besides the advances in science and technology (World Bank, 1993). In Mexico and Latin America the problems of urban planning are mainly due to demographic explosion and continual migration from the countryside to the city that not only increase the demand of urban soil but also that of basic services such as: water, sewerage, transport and electricity. The urbanization prevailing in the XX century in developed countries was characterized, among other aspects, by the establishing of very homogeneous suburban areas of low density, linked to the use of automobile and the construction of important road infrastructure (Sands, 2009). Nonetheless, in recent years changes in the forms of urbanization are observable, in countries such as Sweden one observes what some authors call Counter-Urbanization (Islam, 2009) and in Canada, New Urban Developments (Sands, 2009). …