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600% Tourism Growth Overwhelms Baja Beach

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A Baja California Sur beach has been overwhelmed by growth of more than 600% in visitor numbers over the past six years, prompting authorities to prepare a new management plan that includes charging people to access the protected coastal area.

Located only 20 kilometers from the state capital La Paz, Balandra has been described as the most beautiful beach in Mexico, and it seems many would agree.

Its promotion by state tourism authorities and travel agencies as well as photos and videos of the beach on social media and popular blogs have caused visitor numbers to explode.

“When we started visiting and studying Balandra 30 years ago, there was no tourism,” the state director of the Natural Protected Areas Commission (Conanp), told the newspaper Milenio.

“In 2013, we had 28,000 visitors and we’ll end this year with 200,000,” Benito Bermúdez Almada predicted, which would be a 614% increase.

He said that as many as 2,000 people a day visit the beach.

The massive tourism spike has placed a significant strain on Balandra, the main beach with its own parking lot; Balandra 2, where an iconic mushroom-shaped rock is located; and seven other beaches in the 2,500-hectare protected area.

Too many people in the water is an potential problem.

The good news is that recent testing showed that the water was still well within recommended standards, but one official says, “it’s close to the limit . . . We don’t want to let it get out of hand.”

To mitigate the problem, state and municipal authorities are planning to provide improved washrooms and other sanitary facilities.

Other measures to provide better protection of the beaches will be an increase in the number of park rangers from three to 12 and a ban on vendors from entering the beach. Also planned is an admission fee of 36 pesos, about $2.00, per person per day to enter Balandra Beach.

Balandra Beach is the place to go!

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