Seizing Community Participation in Sustainable Development: Pueblos Mágicos of Mexico

Helene Balslev Clausen, Szilvia Gyimóthy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Despite ten years of strategic focus on growth through sustainable tourism, few research projects generated understanding of how development policy initiatives contributed to community benefits locally. This article addresses this research gap and explores how the aims of local development and cultural sustainability defined in the Mexican national tourism program Pueblos Mágicos are put into practice. The analysis is focused on how citizenship, local participation and democracy are operationalized and what are the local consequences of this governmental program in the community of Álamos. By following the constitution and decision-making processes in the local Pueblos Mágicos committee, we demonstrate how different groups bargain on behalf of the 'community' and how they seize the opportunity to promote different development priorities. In particular, we address the role of a North American migrant community in shaping sustainable tourism development as cultural brokers, social entrepreneurs and mediators of market knowledge. The paper criticizes the notion of homogenous local communities as an instrumental condition of sustainable and participatory development.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Issue numberPart B
Pages (from-to)318-326
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cultural brokers
  • Mexico
  • Participatory development
  • Pueblos Mágicos
  • Touristification
  • Transnational entrepreneurs

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