Tourism Development in Alamos

Alamos has experienced several migration flows from the United States and Europe during its glorious history due to its flourishing mining and business industry in the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. However during the Mexican revolution (1910-1920) one of the first groups to move away was the mansion owners in the city center. The houses were shuttered, and with that, the locality lost its early splendor, and became nothing more than a footnote in Mexican history (Clausen, 2008; Love, 2012). In the last 30 years Alamos has developed into an international tourist destination mainly due to a group of North Americans seeking to reconstruct a town corresponding to their dreams about living in an ‘authentic’ Mexican town. This corresponds to the global tourist imaginary about colonial Mexico (Clausen & Velazquez, 2011). In the late 1950s Alamos was an emerging destination due to the visionary North American entrepreneur William Alcorn. He invested a considerable amount into reconstructing the city centre and its colonial style houses, and invited North Americans to spend their vacations in these peaceful surroundings (Love, 2012). The visitors perceived the lack of nearness to, or even the isolation from, the town’s residents as a positive thing. Whereas the North Americans who settled in town in the 1980s engaged in the Mexican community and showed a keen interest in supporting sustainable tourism development in the town (Clausen, 2008).

North American migrants living in Alamos today are represented in different areas of the tourism sector as owners or managers of local hotels, retailers, cafe owners, restaurant owners, guides, handicraft sellers, real estate agencies, and travel agencies (Clausen & Velazquez, 2011). Alamos has a mature and highly committed local community due to the large number of cultural events and activities for tourists. However, when taking a closer look at the actors developing these activities, they are only members of the transnational North American community (Clausen & Gyimothy, 2015). They have strengthened the image of Mexico as traditional, authentic and pre-modern, by reinventing traditions such as the Danza del Venado (Dance of the Reindeer) performed for tourists on Sundays, and Las Estudiantinas, and Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead). Except for the Dance of the Reindeer these traditions stem from the southern part of Mexico but appeal to the global tourist imaginary of ‘authentic’ Mexico.

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