Miles and miles of white sand inviting you to spend the day under a lounge chair facing the sea. That’s the perfect picture of your ideal vacation in the Mexican Caribbean beaches and resorts. But this picture that may have an unsure future given the impacts that climate change may have on this paradisiacal destination.
Located in the Yucatan peninsula in the south of Mexico and with 3.3 million visitors every year, Cancun represents the biggest touristic destination of Mexico and Latin America. With more than 88 thousand hotel rooms along the 14 miles of pristine white beaches (1), it is a key investment location for the principal hospitality companies in the world. Grupo Posadas being one of the key players in the sector.
Grupo Posadas is the biggest operator of hotels in Mexico with 2015 sales of $6.901B pesos and $13.77B in total assets. (2) As of December 31st, 2015, there were 141 hotels and resorts operating under Posadas 8 brands, with a total of 23,259 rooms, distributed in 62 Mexican Cities, including the most important urban and beach destinations where Cancun plays an important role in the company portfolio. (3)
Impact of Climate Change in Cancun
It’s unclear whether climate change will increase or decrease the number of hurricanes, but scientists have correlated the influence of climate change related factors to the impact and severity they could cause. Based on sophisticated models, scientists expect an increase in the wind speeds by 2-11 percent given warmer sea surface temperatures and rainfall rates during these storms are expected to increase by about 20 percent. (4)
While most people concentrate on the fact that hurricanes can be expected to intensify their impacts during the next decade, it’s important to notice that they represent a major current risk given that they can have a faster and immediate impact by swiping the beach away in as little as one day. A proof of this latent risk is Hurricane Wilma that in 2005 hit Cancun for 60 hours with torrential rains and winds that reached 110 miles an hour, washing away the sand and parts of the tourism infrastructure with an estimated impact cost of $2.5B. (5)
Another important risk is the rise of the global sea level. Scientists estimate that by 2100 it could rise 80 cm (2.6 feet) and even figures of 2 mts (6.6) are possible. (6) The rising of sea level not only increases the severity of hurricanes but also represents a major threat of beach erosion, producing a valuable risk on the real estate of the region since most of the Yucatan and Caribbean tourism infrastructure is located a few meters from the sea. Thus, representing a serious threat to the tourism industry in the region.
What is Grupo Posadas doing in favor of the Environment?
Grupo Posadas is aware of the uncertain impacts that the climate change may have on the environment and their business, and by doing so it decided to make from its environmental practice one of the pillars of the business operations and construction protocols of the company. The materials, equipment, and facilities along with the policies and procedures of their hotels have the objective of minimizing the environmental impact they could have in the environment. Their different programs range from measurement, analysis and saving procedures of energy consumption and gas emissions, to waste and chemicals management, among others. (7)
What else can they do?
Grupo Posadas should continue its effort to earn the Environmental Quality in Tourism certification in all their hotels. This certification will ensure the implementation of various rigorous control measures and process evaluations. (7) In the transition to earning this certification, Grupo Posadas can create more rigorous policies for its suppliers too, ensuring that all the large range of industries which whom they have a commercial or strategic partnership are aligned towards a common goal of environment conservation and preservation.
Also, by having direct contact with the community with different social and volunteering programs, they could create sustainability programs that help the community prevent and be prepared for meteorological phenomena. Helping no only the community but the environment surrounding them as well.
- Boletin Turismo, CONCANACO, January 2016, http://www.concanaco.com.mx/wp-content/uploads/2016/boletines/Turismo-Enero-2016.pdf
- Grupo Posadas 2015 CEO annual report http://cms.posadas.com/posadas/Brands/Posadas/Region/Mexico/Hotels/Finanzas/Catalogs/Media/Informe_Anual/Ingles/Annual_Report_Posadas_2015.pdf
- Grupo Posadas 2015 BMV Annual Report http://cms.posadas.com/posadas/Brands/Posadas/Region/Mexico/Hotels/Finanzas/Catalogs/Media/Informe_Anual/Reporte_Anual/Ingles/Annual_Report_Posadas_2015.pdf
- Kinematic Constraints on Glacier Contributions to 21st-Century Sea-Level Rise; Science Magazine, 05 Sep 2008; Vol. 321, Issue 5894, pp. 1340 – 1343 http://science.sciencemag.org/content/321/5894/1340.full