Guanajuato: the Mexican colonial destination that seeks to consolidate in the tourist reopening after the pandemic

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On the way to Guanajuato, that you pass through so much town”. It is a verse from the song of the legendary Mexican composer José Alfredo Jiménez. A corrido that already in the mid-twentieth century tried to summarize all the beauties hidden in this pearl of Mexican tourism.

And it is that the first image that comes to the head of the tourist when he thinks of Mexico is that of the beaches of Cancun, the jungle of Chiapas or the pyramids of Teotihuacán. 

But among the main destinations in the country is the state of Guanajuato, an axis of the country’s colonial past, which in the 2021 edition of Fitur presents all its offers ready for the reopening of tourism in a summer in which the coronavirus pandemic begins to give in thanks to vaccination campaigns. 

Juan José Álvarez Brunel, Secretary of Tourism of Guanajuato, points out 20 minutes later that the tourist offer of the state is wide: it goes from the great colonial capitals, classified as World Heritage, such as Guanajuato capital or San Miguel de Allende, to the magical towns (distinctive that is awarded in Mexico to unique locations), archaeological sites, wine tourism, and gastronomic routes.   

Juan José Álvarez Brunel, Secretary of Tourism of Guanajuato,
JUAN JOSE ALVAREZ BRUNEL
Secretary of Tourism of Guanajuato

“It gives us great pride to have such a vast land, with so much tradition, history, culture, so many references from those different times,” says the Secretary of Tourism.

Colonial heart

Founded in 1557, the city of Guanajuato, capital of the state (the equivalent of an autonomous community) of the same name, grew with the impulse of mining during the Viceroyalty and was one of the most important capitals of New Spain

This colonial strength has been preserved in the architecture of the city in such an optimal way that it was declared a Cultural Heritage of Humanity along with another neighboring city, San Miguel de Allende.

Nocturnal postcard of the Juátrez Theater, one of the main monuments of the Guanajuato capital.
GUANAJUATO BY NIGHT. Nocturnal postcard of the Juátrez Theater, one of the main monuments of the Guanajuato capital.

“They were references on the Camino Real de la Plata, the one that linked the cities of Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, and San Luis Potosí with Mexico City, where silver was taken to be converted into ingots and then brought to Spain”, he explains. the holder of Tourism.

The result is a city, Guanajuato, full of colonial buildings that have survived the passage of time, old tunnels, intertwined alleys, and alleys where the ancient legends of old Mexico can be combined with the current gastronomic and cultural offer.

One of the most famous points of the Guanajuato capital.  Tradition says that if a couple passes through the narrow alley, they should kiss, lest their love end in tragedy.
CALLEJÓN DEL BESO: One of the most famous points of the Guanajuato capital. Tradition says that if a couple passes through the narrow alley, they should kiss, lest their love end in tragedy.

In addition, the capital is home to the International Cervantes Festival, which each fall brings together scenic proposals around the figure of Cervantes, 

Last year the pandemic caused the event to be only online, but this 2021 it will recover the face-to-face sessions in a “hybrid programming”, confirms Álvarez Brunel.

Magical towns, archaeological sites, ecotourism …

In addition to the main cities, the state has six magical towns: Mineral de Pozos, Dolores Hidalgo, Comonfort, Jalpa de Cánovas, Yuriria and Salvatierra. 

Pre-Hispanic dance on a street in Comonfort, one of the six 'magical towns' in the state.
INDIGENOUS CULTURE: Pre-Hispanic dance on a street in Comonfort, one of the six ‘magical towns’ in the state.

It also has five pre-Hispanic archaeological zones, which testify to the passage through the region of the Chichimecas, Cóporo, Arroyo Seco, Plazuelas, Peralta and Cañada de la Virgen.

And closely linked to this is tourism in natural areas, Álvarez Brunel points out that the state has a large reserve of protected areas where you can do adventure tourism, ecotourism or hiking activities. 

Excursion in one of the protected natural areas of Guanajuato.
ADVENTURE: Excursion in one of the protected natural areas of Guanajuato.

“We know that Spaniards love hiking, or safely entering protected natural areas,” he says.

Business and meeting center

But tourism, which represents 10% of the state’s GDP, is not the only powerful branch in the Guanajuato economy. Álvarez Brunel stands out in the development of the region in the wine industry and as a business center, as well as in other sectors where it has always been thriving, such as agri-food and textiles. 

It also has in another large city, León, one of the most important centers in the leather and footwear industry.

“In addition, Guanajuato has evolved as an important producer in the automotive industry and that combination makes the state a very important place,” he adds.

A piece performed at the Cervantes Festival, which each fall brings together scenic proposals around the work of Cervantes.
CONNECTION WITH CERVANTES: A piece performed at the Cervantes Festival, which each fall brings together scenic proposals around the work of Cervantes.

This economic activity has made, for example, León a spearhead in business tourism and has fifth place in Mexico as a congress and exhibition center. A fairground of 85,000 square meters is also preparing to relaunch this type of event with anti-Covid measures.

Measures against coronavirus

Mexico, as in other countries, is making progress in its vaccination strategy (it is already ending the elderly segment and they are starting with that of adults under 60 years of age) and maintains restrictions against the pandemic, although not as severe as those that have been seen in Europe.

One of the measures adopted to guarantee the health security of the visitor has been the implementation of the Guanajuato Sano seal. “It is the sum of the good practices of all the tourism sectors so that they could be implemented in the places of services, hotels, restaurants, tourist transport, museums, shops, commerce in general”, says Álvarez Brunel

A street in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato.
COLONIAL WORLD: A street in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato.

The guidelines have been implemented in 3,500 tourism companies. “Whoever visits us today will be able to see this stamp throughout the state that tells you that the necessary hygiene measures are available there.”

Another recurring issue that worries visitors is that of security in Mexico. Álvarez Brunel acknowledges that the country is going through a “complex situation”, but that Guanajuato, in coordination with federal authorities, has implemented concrete measures to make tourism feel “as calm as possible.”

Among these measures is that of a Tourist Police that constantly patrols the main roads in the region and reinforces municipal security. “There is a continuous presence, but without being invasive,” he explains.

A female student, the Mexican equivalent of the tunas, performs on a street in Guanajuato.

GALLERY: Guanajuato, the colonial jewel in central Mexico

Thus, Guanajuato seeks to be one of the references of Mexico in Fitur 2021. Colonial cities, magical towns, Chichimeca pyramids, Cervantes work …   “We are ready to receive them, ” concludes the head of Tourism.

San Miguel Post