Tired of the same-old, same-old cultural tours of museums and monuments? What about a visit to a “mystery town,” rich in legends and traditions, instead? In Mexico, you’ll soon be able to.
The state of Guanajuato, in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands, plans to invest about US $6.2 million to upgrade and promote three historic mining towns under the label “mystery towns.”
The project, kicked off by Guanajuato’s state governor on April 5, aims to leverage the tourism that already visits the state, enticing visitors to extend their stay. The state capital, Guanajuato, a World Heritage city since 1988, is already a big tourist draw. So is San Miguel de Allende, about 50 miles away. And about 1.2 million hiking enthusiasts hit the area each year to climb the Cerro de Cubilete, near the capital.
Mexico has a long track record of branding and marketing its rich cultural heritage for upscale tourism. The country has 31 UNESCO World Heritage sites—more than any other country in the Western Hemisphere—and 10 of these are Spanish-colonial cities. It also has nearly 40 “magic villages,” a label created by the Mexican government for towns of historic or cultural importance.
Like the nation-wide “magic village” program, the “mystery town” program aims to generate new revenue sources for the villages involved: Sangre de Cristo, Mineral de La Luz, and San Ignacio. The bulk of the $6.2 million will be used to improve transportation access to the towns, whose heyday was in the 18th and 19th centuries, and to create a museum and visitors’ center.
This part of Mexico, the Colonial Highlands, is already a huge draw for cultural tourists. The region is home to Mexico’s largest concentration of Spanish-colonial cities, including Guanajuato, Dolores Hidalgo and San Miguel de Allende, all in the state of Guanajuato, as well as Querétaro, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí and others in the general area.
The Colonial Highlands are also one of the most popular regions of Mexico for expats. They are drawn to its rich colonial history, temperate climate, and easy access from the U.S. and Canada. San Miguel de Allende, the best-known expat haven in this region, may have as many as 10,000 expats.
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