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Gringolandia: The Construction of a New Tourist Space in Mexico


Department of Geography, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858, e-mail: (Torres); Department of Human and Community Development, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, e-mail: (Momsen).


With Cancun, the site of the 2003 World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, being presented as a metaphor for the inequities purported to emerge from globalization, this is an opportune time to examine the resort and its surrounding region as a product of transnational forces. Locals refer to Cancun as “Gringolandia,” a term that reflects the circus-like spectacle of the overbuilt resort, embedded in a region deeply divided by uneven development and the ensuing inequitable power relations. The principal objective of this article is to understand how transnational forces have reshaped local realities and power structures in the Yucatan to construct and reproduce Gringolandia as a new tourist space. We commence with an historical overview of the planning, inception, and subsequent evolution of the physical and socioeconomic spatial divisions manifest in the resort today. We then analyze the two forces that have played perhaps the greatest role in constructing Gringolandia: the transnational economic structure of the resort and the consumption- and production-led migratory flows to Cancun. Detailed understanding of the construction of Gringolandia, and its regional influence, holds valuable lessons for future tourist resort planning and development in lesser-developed countries.