The Tourism Industry in Mexico Essay

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American tourism in Mexico provides a window into understanding U.S.-Mexico relations. By promoting tourism as a path to economic development, Mexico shows that it is still dependent on the U.S. This is the same U.S. that fought a war with Mexico, took land from Mexico (the southwest region of America), and still continues to treat Mexico with condescension (threats of building a wall, calling all immigrants rapists and murders, and knocking down the culture of Mexicans). Yet, Mexicans should think that relying on Americans for tourism is a good thing? Instead of relying on the tourism industry for economic development, Mexico should be developing its industries. After all, the development of industry is what helped America create a strong economy. As Berger and Wood note: “tourism as a modern social practice first gained popularity with the advent of the railroad and steamship” (Berger & Wood, 2010, p. 2). Without the railroad and steamship, Americans would not even have had the capacity to travel in mass to Mexico for holidays and fun. Mexico is being too passive in its relationship with the U.S. and should be more assertive. It should not rely on the good will of America to stake its own economic growth but should pull itself up by its bootstraps and build its own innovative products and service lines to grow its economy.

Tourism adds to our understanding of Mexico by filtering the country through a lens of privilege. Tourists see the host country as existing for the benefit of the tourists. They see themselves as honored guests whom the host country is lucky to have. The tourists enjoy the hospitality shown to them, but there is no equality in the exchange. There has never been equality between the U.S. and Mexico. The history of the two nations has generally been one of antagonism. In the Mexican Civil War of the 20th century, the U.S. was supporting the authoritarian regime against the Cristeros. It warred with Mexico over Texas and beyond.
It has used Mexican labor cheaply so that cheap products could be built inexpensively and shipped back across the border so corporations can make more profit than if they had hired American labor.

In chapter “Cancun and the Campo,” this fact is made all the more apparent: “Employees are offered short-term contracts rather than the previously common long-term contracts, are expected to work longer shifts, and must forgo vacation time during the high tourist season. As a result of this shift in labor practices, Kuchmil residents have come to equate tourist work with slave labor during the colonial period…due to the long work hours, double shifts that left them sleep-deprived, low wages, limited vacation time, and, in some instances, hazardous work conditions” (Berger & Wood, 2010, p. 254). In Mexico, as this chapter shows, the tourism industry is the “social death of man” (Berger & Wood, 2010, p. 254) and the same can be said for how the U.S. has always treated Mexico. The fact of the matter is that the idea of Manifest Destiny has always been part of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) belief system in America, and that belief system has allowed a racist and ethnic and culturally-biased view of Mexicans to dictate policy. The WASP belief system perpetuates the stereotype that Mexicans are slavish and as Mexico’s leaders do not dissuade that identity and attempt to instill internal order in the country, the stereotype persists. In other words, the tourism industry does not make Mexico strong; it makes Mexico weak.

In the chapter “The Beach and Beyond,” it is seen that the same is happening in new tourist areas like Oaxaca, where tourists come for fun, have a great time, write back to the locals about how great their experience was and help boost the local economy. It sounds great in theory, but….....

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Works Cited

Berger, Dian and Grant Wood, editors (2010) Holiday in Mexico: Critical Reflections on Tourism and Tourist Encounters. Duke University Press Books. ISBN: 0822345714

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