The Mexican Caribbean has seen explosive growth in the last ten years. Beginning as dense jungle, mangroves and a dream, Cancun was the first area to be developed, with initial infrastructure projects underway by the mid 1970's. From the inception of the project, the Mexican government understood the economic potential of the region, and has continually infused resources into its development. In addition, the restructuring of traditionally strict land ownership laws has successfully attracted foreign participation.
The master plan for the region called for a bold, long-term, multi-phase project. A highway south along the coast was constructed, connecting the resort destination of Cancun with Tulum, site of some of the oldest Mayan ruins in Mexico. This area, known as the "Mayan Riviera" or the "Tourist Corridor" includes Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Akumal, Xel-Ha and Tankah.
As the phases of Cancun's development progressed, simultaneous smaller projects were undertaken south along the coast that complemented the draw of tourists to Cancun and led to the development of many additional destination sites. As a result, the success of the master plan has been nothing short of phenomenal. The latest statistics by Fonatur, the Mexican government tourist board, show that the volume of foreign tourists visiting the area has more then tripled in the past 10 years.
As a result of the popularity and growth of the Mayan Riviera, real estate prices have risen dramatically. The lament of the local real estate agents is that there is virtually no more land available for sale in Cancun. It is either all developed or held by large hotel consortiums for future development.
The land shortage and high land costs in Cancun have prompted developers, hotel chains and private investors in search of quieter environments to begin looking to areas such as Puerto Morelos.
Some large-scale development is already beginning in this area of the Mayan Riviera. Punta Brava, south of the town's main square is the site of a major hotel development by the El Cid hotel chain. In addition, many smaller international resort developments such as the Bahia Maya Resort and the Mayan Reef Resort have operations already functioning just a few kilometers north of Puerto Morelos.
The creation of the Mayan Riviera, a first class destination, has been a brilliantly conceived, well-planned and executed vision. Tourism statistics and land value increases over the last five years demonstrate the success of the undertaking, as well as illustrate the financial potential of this region. Properties located in pristine tropical areas of the world have long been a pursuit of those individuals with the financial resources to afford second houses or vacation villas. Areas once popular such as the Caribbean islands, Hawaii and the Mediterranean have become over developed and extremely expensive. The Mayan Riviera offers an attractive alternative with comparable allure. Investment opportunities in this area are indeed enticing.