Emilio M. Lamadrid de Aguinaco Sustainable Tourism Observatory of the State of Tamaulipas (Mexico)


Due to the scarcity of tourism information analysed in the State, it was necessary to work on generating a strategy that would contribute to the improvement of public policy management as well as to the strengthening of the tourism sector due to its importance for Tamaulipas.  The lack of information on tourism activity indicators presented us with a great challenge. 

In the first place, we had the need to start working with basic information that would help us quickly and effectively to obtain basic data on the movement of the sector and give us a more concrete picture of what tourism represents in Tamaulipas in order to be able to make decisions about the objectives and goals to be achieved in the coming years and to observe, through the analysis of the information, the development of tourism activity and to have feedback to know if the actions we are taking are having the results we expect. 

In this sense, we began to ask ourselves what we wanted to know about those who visit us and what tools we needed to update in order to have basic information that would give us the guidelines to understand what is happening in our State.

So we start with these first questions:

Similarly and in parallel, we had the need to update data on hotels and other tourism service providers for the State Tourism Registry, and to update the statistical yearbooks (from official sources such as the databases of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) and the analyses of the Federal Ministry of Tourism through DATATUR), thus seeking to comply with the provisions of Title Seven "Information Systems of the Tourism Activity" Articles 55 to 68 of the Tourism Law of the State of Tamaulipas.

Based on these first actions, we sought to generate new indicators that would help us to support the decision making process of both the State Government itself and the companies in the sector, seeking to enhance their operation through the use of reliable, timely, relevant and accurate information that would tell us, for example, which markets we should focus our promotional efforts on.

As tourism is a very dynamic activity that requires particular attention to understand the phenomena produced by the sector, and after developing the necessary bases to determine the flow and analysis of information, the Sustainable Tourism Observatory of the State of Tamaulipas (Mexico) was created.

Basis / Origin of the Observatory



To have an integral and public tool that helps the government and the different sectors of the economy to make decisions, and to generate management mechanisms based on local realities.

What is it?

It is a permanent body dedicated to the research, analysis, evaluation and consultation of tourism activity in its different modalities, through intersectoral and multidisciplinary work that makes it possible to measure and monitor tourism activity, as well as the variables that affect it.

Its Objectives (Article 2 of the Creation Agreement):

l. To measure and evaluate the performance of the tourism sector from the global perspective of society and government; as well as its contribution to the general development of the State; 

ll. To generate tourism information for permanent consultation within the reach of society, academia, government and interest groups; 

III. To identify social phenomena that affect the development of the tourism sector in the State; 

IV. To propose the linking of the performance of the tourism sector with other strategic processes of development, such as competitiveness, sustainability and social inclusion in the State; 

V. To promote studies and research in tourism matters; and 

VI. To generate information to facilitate and guide decision-making as well as the implementation of actions by the public, educational, private and social sectors. 

The Sustainable Tourism Observatory of Tamaulipas during COVID-19

On 16 March 2020, the Government of Tamaulipas issued the declaration of health emergency derived from the pandemic caused by the SARS-COV 2 virus (COVID-19) and ordered the closure of beaches and tourist sites, making Tamaulipas the first state to take this type of measures. Just 3 days later, on 19 March, the Governmental Agreement creating the Sustainable Tourism Observatory of the State of Tamaulipas was published in the Official State Gazette, so that the first exercise of the Observatory during the Easter holiday period of 2020, in coordination with the municipal authorities, was to monitor that tourist sites and beaches did not have visitors, in order to prevent the spread of the virus. 

As already mentioned, tourism being a very dynamic activity, the immobility caused by the confinement had a major impact on the tourism sector, not only in Tamaulipas, but worldwide.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in Mexico, in mid-March 2020, the Ministry of Tourism of Tamaulipas has been vigilant about the measures applied by authorities, tourist destinations and national and international organisations. This is how the Sustainable Tourism Observatory of Tamaulipas, conducted an investigation on the guidelines that were being applied in other parts of Mexico, to know the strategies for safe reopening in different states of the republic (Guerrero, Baja California Sur, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Quintana Roo, Nayarit, Yucatan, to mention a few), as well as in some places in the world.

The objective of this research was to establish new hygiene and health prevention measures to be added to the existing ones, in the management of the reopening of nature destinations and sites, beaches, hunting ranches and sport fishing camps for the greater safety of users. The State Government through the Ministry of Health published on 30 May 2020 the Agreement by which sanitary and health safety guidelines are issued for the gradual and responsible reopening of non-essential economic activities in the State, based on the recommendation of the State Health Safety Committee and whose purpose was to establish the measures that should be applied to non-core activities to resume operations, prioritising actions to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection, which was implemented as of 1 June 2020 and where the reactivation of two tourism sectors, lodging and restaurants, was contemplated. 

Based on these guidelines and international health measures for tourist centres, the Sustainable Tourism Observatory, in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism and COEPRIS, developed the protocols for the Reopening of the New Reality with Safe Coexistence in Economic Activities not essential to the Tourism Sector, applicable to the following destinations:

This is how the SANITAMPRO programme was born on 15 May 2020, with the intention of providing Tourism Service Providers with a certificate of good biosecurity practices that would generate confidence in the users of the services. This certificate was approved on 15 June with the international SAFE TRAVELS certificate of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).   The measures were developed to be applied during Phase 2 of the reopening, which took place in some municipalities of the state as of 18 August 2020. This work resulted in a series of actions to implement the protocols at tourism sites, which are explained below: 

Beach mapping

Tamaulipas has 420 kilometres of coastline with the Gulf of Mexico, where 6 main beaches are located in the state. The most popular beach in Tamaulipas during the holiday season, Playa Miramar in Ciudad Madero, was taken as the study area. 

During the planning work for the reopening of the beaches, inspection visits were carried out to determine the best way to organise tourists and visitors within the open spaces and the way in which access to these sites would be organised. Authorities from the three levels of government were involved in these visits. 

Each of the 6 beaches (due to their vocation and the historical number of tourists), was divided into sections according to their characteristics, estimating the maximum capacity of capacity according to the healthy distance necessary to avoid contagion, also considering a traffic light to monitor the capacity of each section so that, at each hour, the capacity of each section would be shared with the other beaches, The information was shared every hour through the social networks of the Ministry of Tourism to inform people about the behaviour of the entrance to the beaches (all this prior to the launch of the COMPRA TAM application and the RESERVA PLAYAS module where the number of people who entered the reserved section could be known in real time).

From August 2020 to date, the beaches of Tamaulipas, as well as the most important tourist sites in the state, have remained open thanks to the coordination work of the Sustainable Tourism Observatory, the Ministry of Tourism and the tourism sector, and have never had to close (which happened on several beaches worldwide).

The constant measurement of the performance of the Tourism Sector by the Sustainable Tourism Observatory during the pandemic and the work on the development and implementation of strategies for the reopening of tourism, contributed to a much faster recovery than other sectors of the economy. This may seem like ancient history, but it is a good example of the importance of Tourism Observatories in decision-making.

Bibliography: Acuerdo Gubernamental mediante el cual se crea el Observatorio Turístico Sostenible del Estado de Tamaulipas published in the Periódico Oficial del Estado de Tamaulipas on 19 March 2020, Tomo CXLV Número 25. Los observatorios turísticos a través de los tiempos, Edison Rubén Molina Velásquez; Sisa Carolina Báez Alcocer. Central University of Ecuado

Ing. Emilio Mariano Lamadrid de Aguinaco

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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