Mexico Cashes in On Love of Adventure Tourism

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By Frank D Gardner


Survivalists have come crashing into the public spotlight within the past several years. The idea of survivalism as a sport is just beginning to take hold in the public consciousness, but Britain and the USA have a growing number of increasingly popular shows based on the concept of survivalist hosts pitting themselves against challenges of endurance and environmental savvy. Shows like Bear Grylls' Man vs. Wild and Les Stroud's Survivorman are but a few of the widely-watched series based on this theme; these days, one would be hard-pressed to find a television viewer who wasn't familiar with at least one survivalist adventure program.

Now, it seems even President Felipe Calderon of Mexico wants to jump on the survivalist bandwagon. A land rich with natural treasures, Mexico will be the subject of a new PBS television series that explores its hidden jungles, caves, and recesses - hosted by the President himself! With co-host Peter Greenberg, President Calderon leads TV viewers on 30-minute tours of Mexico as it's never been seen before, starting with a 1,000 foot descent into the Golondrinas cavern.

The Big Blue Hole

Later, the President accompanies Greenberg to the Yucatan's famous Big Blue Hole, an enormous underwater cavern over 400 feet deep whose roof caved in millennia ago. Looking like a huge, dark blue polka-dot resting on the bottom of the otherwise shallow, turquoise sea, it is one of Mexico's most stunning natural features. Supporters of the project were happy to see such a unique natural treasure explained by none other than President Calderon.

A Boost to the Flagging Tourism Industry

President Calderon's political backers claim the series is just what the Tourism Ministry needs to help jump-start the waning tourist industry; significant sums have already been spent to rehabilitate the country's image to international tourists after the recent spate of cartel-related violence made headlines. By showing off the best of what its natural landscape has to offer, the country can cash in on the rising popularity of adventure tourism, and the people of Mexico can feel proud at the international acclaim being heaped on Mexico's unique and lush natural environments.

Those against the series tend to espouse the viewpoint that, far from being a tourism-booster, the series is nothing more than an elaborate stunt, and one aimed at boosting the President's own level of recognition and international prestige. They say that while the series will do little to help Mexico's flagging tourist industry, the starring role Mr. Calderon will take in the program shows its true purpose, and that using Mexico's tax money to fund his own private designs on TV stardom are inappropriate at best.

The Democratic Revolution Party, for one, is completely opposed to the series being taken any further. The Labor Party has also come out against the idea, and has demanded that expense reports surrounding the show's production be made public. Many on Mexico's political left see the project as a sure flop and a waste of valuable revenue, accomplishing nothing besides letting the President jet-set to all of Mexico's finest getaways and beautiful vacation spots.

Backers of the President counter that the Mexican taxpayer isn't bearing the burden of making the show, as the majority of the tab is being picked up by the U.S. government. Many remain skeptical, though, observing as anyone can the severe financial woes of the USA's federal government, and eagle-eyed observers have also noted that Mexico is clearly on the hook - when the President and his co-host are shuttled around the country from one destination to the next, whose helicopter should they be flying on but the Mexican government's!




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