Cabo Corrientes authorities identified the widening gap between rich and poor within the municipality as a serious social problem. The city faced marginalization of its impoverished citizens, who were economically, socially, and politically disenfranchised, through poor communication networks, insufficient public resources, and lack of economic opportunities. To meet the needs of these residents, reformers began the Tourist Routes Project to stimulate local development and contribute to poverty alleviation.
First, reformers identified four routes of natural and man-made attractions; these routes each have their own management team, making the administration of the entire territory a matter of regional and local responsibility. The four routes are: the Coffee Route, the Raicilla Route (a type of liquor distilled from the roots of the maguey plant), the Portuguese Oyster Route (El Ostión), and the Coastal Route. Clearly, the names of three of the four Routes are derived from major local products in the municipality, while the fourth refers to the long coastline that abuts Cabo Corrientes. The planners chose to highlight these three products as focuses to attract tourists to the industries and natural beauty that lend the municipality its unique character.
Implementation of these four new Tourist Routes required planning, management, and marketing in order to position Cabo competitively as a tourist destination. This has been achieved through advanced training courses for local producers and factory workers in tourist service provision and environmental protection strategies. The municipality has invested heavily in resources to protect the city’s potential tourist attractions. For example, the city council began new environmental projects to rehabilitate coastal and inland natural attractions for visitors and has also built new roads and improved the quality of transportation to make tourist access to the routes easier and more efficient.
The Tourist Routes Program in Cabo Corrientes is exemplary because it has taken an innovative approach to local development, identifying the target industry of tourism and involving local growers and factory workers in implementing improvements to attract visitors. The philosophy of the program’s innovators is that local government must integrate activities regionally and with the community to encourage economic development in less accessible areas. By tying Tourist Routes to regionalization of local management, the municipal government has become more efficient. The project has also used networked resources of the private sector to preserve the natural environment of Cabo Corrientes. As the Tourist Routes develop, projects will increasingly be the responsibility of the citizenry as the local government continues to devolve its role to local producers and managers.