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Is Tourism Ruining San Miguel?

Alberto Aveleyra Atencion

By Jon Sievert

Relentless promotion of our beautiful city has turned San Miguel into one of the world’s top travel and retirement destinations—but at what cost? At this week’s Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Service, anthropologist Alberto Averleyra argues that we are at risk of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Today, San Miguel de Allende is in a delicate situation, the outcome of an economic and cultural process that began almost 80 years ago. Not since that golden 18th century, which saw most of the buildings of the Centro Histórico rise, has there been a time when the city has grown as much as it has in the last 40 years.

The intensity of tourist flows—their volume, and spatial and temporal concentration—has transformed the dynamics and vital rhythm of the city, especially during weekends, when the capacity of Centro has been surpassed on innumerable occasions. Massive development projects that ignore the humanitarian and ecological realities of the city are routinely given the green light in the name of “good business.”

The question, then, is who has the right to shape the future of this city?” Is it only the hotel owners, the restaurateurs, the developers, the realtors, and the politicians? How about the ordinary people who make it their home? It is this group, civil society, who has been left out of the mix in deciding San Miguel’s future. Aveleyra says that must change if we are to preserve our way of life.

Anthropologist Alberto Aveleyra describes himself as a Mexican/citizen of the world, in love with Mexico and its cultures. He is especially in love with the art of communicating and interpreting the values of Mexican heritage through travel experiences. He is the founder of Artisans of Time, which works in the interface of culture, heritage, and tourism to provide research, training, and consulting for high-quality tours around Mexico.

At a time when residents feel the impact of tourists flooding Centro, of traffic choking our streets, and of new construction marring the cityscape, Aveleyra has become the conscience for responsible, sustainable tourism in San Miguel. He gives voice to a civil society that wants to take back the city.

The UU Fellowship meets every Sunday at 10:30am at Posada de la Aldea, Ancha de San Antonio 15, and welcomes people of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientation, and gender identity. For information about our Children’s Sunday Program, contact us at The meeting room is wheelchair accessible. For more information, visit our website at


UU Service

“Is Tourism Ruining San Miguel?”

By Alberto Aveleyra

Sun, Jun 3, 10:30am

Posada de la Aldea, Ancha de San Antonio 15





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