Category Management Plan

Lack of information and communication by authorities creates confusion and disarray in the bay.

Akumal Bay is in a state of uncertainty as well as disarray.

The declaration of the Refuge for Protected Marine Species and with that a new bay management plan now being enforced has created many problems and issues which in turn is confusing and bewildering to those visiting the bay.

The authorities have not implemented any signs, maps or any visual informational to help inform the visitors once they arrive. Additionally, the general public including Mexican nationals, guests of the hotels and resorts and rental properties are unaware that there are government authorities and other monitors in the bay and when someone approaches them when they are already in the water, they naturally react with doubt and reservation as to who the person is.

It does not help the situation either that for the past year at least there have again been groups of guides from several of the tour operator cooperatives that are now “bay monitors”. Many of these are the very same individuals from the former “Vigilance Committee” of the summer/fall of 2016 that were stalking and extorting visitors to take a tour. They were very convincing with their official looking green shirts or “bay patrol” shirts but in fact they were not any legal authority and many were reported for their actions and bad behavior towards tourists.

All of this has been circulating around in social media and over time has had very detrimental effects to Akumal tourism. Anyone that has access to these pages and have either been following the history of these events or are hearing about these incidents for the first time, would naturally be leery of ANYONE approaching them, especially when they are already in the water…let alone consider even coming to Akumal.

In a perfect world, proper informative signage with maps in English and Spanish would be placed in several strategic and visible locations in Akumal, including the beach. An effort would be put into proper training for these patrols that would include better methods to engage visitors such as basic customer service protocols, conflict resolution and that any personnel tasked with these monitoring responsibilities have good communication skills.

The government officials should speak English at the very least but if their decision is to enlist local guides, then they need to also have proper training and be able to communicate effectively (just not speak) in English. They have been sent out on a mission without the tools to carry out the mission!

And to make an effort to try to be polite and professional even educational to visitors would go a long way.

There should be visual aids by way of signage letting people know what the rules are BEFORE they enter the water. There should be someone available to answer questions or doubts. None of this is in place, but we are hopeful that it will be and very soon. The business and property owners of the bay have been requesting this from the authorities and showing them evidence of how a management plan can go very wrong if not monitored correctly.

So one wonders why there is so much conflict now with the present “vigilance committee” of Akumal Bay? And consequently, the actual government officials should be wondering why they are getting a negative reaction from tourists when they approach them…because there in fact is indeed the source of the issues plain and simple.

Suspension continues amidst pressure from tour operators… but for how long?

Akumal is at a very important and critical crossroads at this moment and the community as a whole has a unique opportunity to play an important role in helping to shape it’s future.

LaIMG_2266st month PROFEPA took action and temporarily suspended the snorkel with tour activities for groups—an action that deserves commendation as the bay cannot sustain the current levels of commercial activity.

However, the government is now being pressured by the local cooperatives and guides to reinstate their commercial permits. While the language of the official statement published by PROFEPA on February 15 is vague concerning permits and how qualifications for them will be determined, they do maintain their commitment to carrying out the effective monitoring and enforcement by qualified inspectors supported by federal authorities. The decisions of the authorities must be based on research, facts, scientific data and precedent with a focus on a sustainable future for Akumal Bay in the forefront.

If, however, the government surrenders to the pressure from the commercial groups and reissues permits without defined limitations and consequences, a comprehensive management plan or controlled entry/exit point to monitor the number of guests, Akumal (its ecosystems, safety and security) will be put at risk again.

Knowing that in order to create sustainable solutions that balance the economic needs of the local community with environmental impacts, guides and cooperatives should and will be part of that picture. But should that picture and future include no properly managed oversight of the people entering, tour groups, or policies? No consequences for violations and infractions? Should the welcoming image to Akumal remain as we have seen and not be improved and maintained?

Some things for everyone to consider:

  • Do you wish to see the local cooperatives set up shop again and continue sales efforts along the entrance to Akumal?
  • Do you think that the snorkel sales shacks constructed along the roadway give a welcoming impression to Akumal?
  • Do you think that the tourists enjoy being stopped by the vendors when driving into the community or walking in from the highway?
  • Is it acceptable for the authorities to allow the tour guides and cooperatives to use these haphazardly  installed snorkel sales shacks as their legal place of business?
  • Do you think that the authorities should continue to look the other way as the cooperatives and informal groups use the private property of other businesses and properties as well as the federal zone to promote and conduct sales and use it as a set up area for their tours?
  • Do you think that the authorities should legitimize and recognize all the new and “splinter” cooperatives that have popped up and are merely opportunists cashing in on the easy snorkel tour dollars? (The numbers are rising. At last count there are 59 groups, while only 20 had legal permits up to December 31 of this year).

Important Points that Need to Happen

  • the authorities must consider waiting to issue the permits until after the management and capacity limits are set so that permit holders have clear rules, laws and not just recommendations.
  • the authorities must finally realize the best option is to work with the property holder that can offer the infrastructure that is needed to allow commercial activity to happen and in a sustainable manner.
  • the authorities must limit the operating permits to those that have the proper installations or access to them. Those permitted and their guides must carry licences, be insured and have proper training including basic water safety, first aid and CPR. Operating permits should first be considered for qualified, legally established cooperatives and their guides that are from Akumal first and foremost.
  • the authorities must recognize that self-regulation by aggressive, sales-motivated guides or other representatives from cooperative groups has not worked—guides cannot be conducting business while monitoring the numbers of entries of their colleagues and friends. Alternative solutions must be found to monitor, educate and control the number of groups entering on a daily basis.

As these next developments move forward, there is a lot at stake for the stability of the entire Akumal community and with that comes some degree of concern for its security as well.

Many of the local tour operators have visited the offices of the Congress of the State of Quintana Roo and the President of the Municipality of Tulum to have their concerns heard and appeal the PROFEPA decision. They maintain that many families have now been financially affected due to this action and they are now victims of desperate economic hardship.

The redistribution of operating permits will soon be a reality that will hopefully coincide with a properly managed and enforced bay management plan. Meanwhile it has been documented that the business of snorkel tours at locations such as Yal Ku Lagoon and Half Moon Bay, have dramatically increased since the very day that the government suspension was enacted.

This very well may be one of the most critical times where the collective voices, ideas and opinions from all residents, long time visitors and guests must be heard by the various authorities. If you are in support and agreement with any of what you have read here or want to express and share your views with the various authorities and be a part of shaping the future of Akumal, please use the links below for communication. Let your voice be heard by letting the authorities know how you feel as well as how sustainable long-term solutions are essential.


Secretaría de Tourismo (SECTUR), Enrique de la Madrid Cordero
(National Secretary of Tourim)

Gobernador Constitucional del Estado de Quintana Roo, C.P. Carlos Joaquín González
(Governor of Quintana Roo),

Secretario de Gobierno, Mtro. Francisco Xavier López Mena
(Secretary General of the Government)

Secretaría de Finanzas y Planeación de Q. Roo, C.P. Juan Vergara Fernández
(Ministry of Finance and Planning of Quintana Roo)

Secretaria Estatal de Turismo, Lic. Marisol Vanegas Pérez
(Ministry of State Tourism)

Secretario de Seguridad Publica, Lic. Rodolfo Del Ángel Campos
(Ministry of Public Security)

Fiscal General del Estado de Q. Roo, Mtro. Miguel Angel Pech Cen
(Attorney General of the State of Quintana Roo)

El Procurador Federal de Protección al Ambiente, Guillermo Haro Bélchez

(Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection)
Secretario de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Rafael Pacchiano
(Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources)
Comisionado Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas, Lic. Alejandro del Mazo
(National Commission for Natural Protected Areas)


An Appeal for Constitutional Order

Below is a statement published in the PorEsto! on Sept 3, 2016 by Club Akumal Caribe/ Hotel Akumal Caribe in regards to the recent events on their property.



Tulum, September 2, 2016


As Mexicans, we’ve been informed of the status of the 2016 public administration, whom the country has relied on to invest in our resources and create jobs in an honest and transparent manner, always believing the rule of law shelters us.

With the constitution of the Republic and the State of Quintana Roo in our hands, we express our great concern over the events that are emerging at this moment in time in the town of Akumal, Quintana Roo, Municipality of Tulum, in regards to the irresponsible act carried out by the municipal council to push through the proposal by “TODOS JUNTOS POR AKUMAL, A.C.” to give access to the beach area of the town of Akumal with the support of public security at its disposal, going through our private property.  Thus, without a court order and in a meta-constitutional manner, the rule of law has been violated; this not only damages the tourism image of the Mexican Caribbean, but also discourages investment, by allowing people to take matters in their own hands, destroying private property that has been legally established since before 1962.

We must all abide by the rule of law and the authorities must ensure respect for private property and guarantee security for all citizens.

This is not a struggle of the poor against the rich. It is not a social struggle, nor is it a struggle of human rights.  It is a defense of private property and the legal and legitimate right to purchase the land dating back to the 1960s, when there were no communities and no original inhabitants. So we have not deprived people of access to a public beach or a window to the sea. The Urban Development Plan (UDP) which was promulgated by the Municipal Government of Tulum does not show a path or an area of free public access on our private property; however, it clearly marks other windows to the sea in Akumal. These windows to the sea have been established by the government. Not us.

For decades we have and continue to maintain an open access to the general public, we, along with the adjoining property, have never denied public access, yet both owners have seen the need to implement rules of use, due to harassment, threats, theft and damage to our property by businessmen disguised as cooperatives who use our facilities for commercial purposes without any financial contribution. We have invested millions of pesos in building infrastructure and maintaining it, such as lifeguard service, trash removal and bathroom facilities.  Yet, it is the cooperatives who take huge profits, without the tax burden, while the City of Tulum gives permits erroneously, allowing the selling of tours throughout public streets and the harassment of tourists, including in some cases at the entrance to Akumal Bay, where they’ve lied, saying they are there to protect the ecology. And even sometimes using the name of CEA to say that they care for the environment.

It is not fair nor just that the municipal authorities authorized such outrageous acts and destruction and violent stripping of private property. And what’s more, they send Tulum municipal police divisions to safeguard the cooperatives to take over private land.

We are legally established entrepreneurs who comply with all standards of the three levels of government, but suffer harassment, defamation and threats from the cooperatives who profit through the use of private property and the over-exploitation of natural resources.

The country should not accept that their government ignore the rights of society; a society that is dedicated to building a prosperous country by creating opportunities for all, supporting egalitarian certainty in investment, caring for the environment and above all, who carry out social development actions that the state itself sets aside.

Today, more than 80% of Mexicans do not believe in our authorities; we are ranked in the last places of the 2016 global peace index and the economic conditions of the country are not the best. We need to think long term to what will be best for all Mexicans.

We urge that the rule of law be enforced by the government authorities elected this past June 5, to bring order and peace in the state and in particular to the municipality of Tulum—land of all, yet abused by a few with the power of public office.


Armando Couto Keever, Legal Representative


The original statement published in the PorEsto can be found in Spanish here: PorEsto-Urge Establecer el Orden Constitucional

High Season is Here

Akumal on Saturday, January 2


January 4, 2016

With the holidays rounding out and cold temperatures in various parts of the northern hemisphere, there is certainly no doubt where everyone is heading: South. But looking at the beach in Akumal the first week in January, you would think that that message was more fine-tuned to read Akumal.

The main street into Akumal was clogged, traffic at a standstill, parking mayhem, and people scattered about with no regards to the vehicular traffic. And the beach–what beach? Beyond the towels, umbrellas, coolers and shade tents set up with bodies sprawling, there was little space to be found or sand to be seen. And then there is the bay itself, “snorkeler and swimmer soup” as one tourist called it. Guests of the various hotels and condos reported they preferred to stay on property by the pool or patios instead of battling the traffic and the crowds of day trippers  on the beach.

And this is why the government needs to act sooner rather than later, for Akumal Bay cannot sustain this volume of people. In December 2015, the government approved the justification study based on the various studies and specific evidence provided by CEA and the lobbying by numerous people, to proclaim Akumal Bay a turtle refuge. But the official declaration has been slow in the making. By declaring it a refuge, the government authorities would then be able to implement capacity limits  and oversee a management plan; the capacity limits for both the beach and the bay would help achieve sustainability.

It is critical that the government take action to not only declare Akumal a Turtle Refuge but to also enforce capacity limits and a management plan before it is too late.