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Andrea Tapia Alvarez

Cultural Tourism in Mexico:
Linking Economic, Tourism and Cultural Policies

          Culture in Mexico is a contradictory issue. It has always been an important part of the country, but as in many other countries, especially less developed ones, it has never been a priority in the government’s agenda. Economic policies, more often than not, go against cultural policies. For academics and people working in this field, current policies are no longer adequate for the national reality. Furthermore, cultural activities have not proven to be a profitable investment to the government, limiting both resources spent in the field and the potential for future change.

            Is culture’s last hope to be associated with tourism? Would this association prove a worthy investment? Would the national priorities finally shift to an interest in investing in and preserving heritage? Is linking culture with a profitable activity the final option for inclusion in the government’s economic plans?

            Multiple studies done in countries around the world have shown that cultural tourism is a very profitable product to be developed, especially in countries, such as Mexico, that have a rich heritage. Perhaps the development of cultural tourism, which involves visiting museums, archaeological and historical sites, religious and military buildings, as well as other manifestations, will position culture in the same terms as other “important” issues. Before cultural tourism is co-opted by tourism authorities, whose main concern is accommodating the needs of tourists, the need to establish new cultural policies and regulations to control tourism’s effects on heritage sites becomes extremely urgent. Without adequate planning and thorough policies concerning preservation, promotion and control on cultural tourism, Mexico’s heritage will fade, leaving the country without any real attraction to offer to the world.

            By exploring developmental and promotional initiatives of the Mexican government and its cultural authorities, this work proposes new policies for cultural tourism. In raising awareness about the need to preserve cultural identity as one route to development, these policies encompass funding, networking, promoting and preserving to obtain a tangible benefit from tourism.


          Andrea Tapia Alvarez received her BA in History from the Iberoamericana University in Mexico City in 2000. She worked for the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico as a curator and researcher. While in Chicago, she interned at the Chicago Historical Society, and the Development Office of the Newberry Library.


Thesis Advisor: Nicholas Lowe Visiting Artist, Arts Administration

Thesis Reader: Robert Loescher Professor and Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Chair in Art History, Theory, and Criticism; Director, BFA with emphasis in Art History

Second Reader: Alex Larrondo Historian, museum researcher; graphic designer, XAOSMEDIA, Mexico
















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