It started in 2008 with the designation of San Miguel de Allende along with Atotonilco as World Heritage sites. It was a project that was worked on for several years to get the designation. It
was and is an honor.
It did not seem, at first, to make a difference in our lives other then the excitement that we all
felt about this place that we called home and loved so much.
In about 2012, a huge tourist board campaign was started by the country and our state to bring
more tourism to Mexico and to San Miguel.
In the past, the breakdown of tourists was about 80% from outside of Mexico and about 20% Mexican nationals. Now, the campaign was to encourage Mexican nationals to travel more within their country. A big push to improve roads, add more toll roads and provide more information about
little known places was ongoing. The mix of tourism in SMA now is 80% Mexican nationals and 20% from outside of Mexico.
On weekends, starting Friday about noon, the traffic was streaming into town. The cars jammed the narrow cobble stoned streets with an attempt to find a place to park or a parking lot or something. The narrow cobble stoned sidewalks were filled with people attempting to walk on them and not on the streets. Centro was becoming a mad house from Friday til Sunday night.
About the same time, Conde Nast named San Miguel the best place in the world to visit! Most of us
were flabbergasted. That is when the onslaught of people began to happen. A couple of years ago.
The Mayor of San Miguel lauded the fact of increased tourism in the Atencion newspaper a week or so ago by saying that we, in this little village of 50,000 people, had over one million visitors in 2016 and the increase in 2017 was another 1.2 or 1.7 million visitors. Giving us a grand total of over two million visitors! It is a nightmare of epic proportions.
San Miguel is a very compact town that one can walk from one side to the other in thirty minutes. When I could walk, I did it time after time. Sadly I no longer can walk the distance, but trust me, it is very compact. Can you imagine that many people in a town this size along with their vehicles?
The government keeps saying they are going to build parking lots on the outskirts of town and have trolleys or buses or whatever to get people into town. This has been said for at least three years, if not more. Nothing so far.
One of the great fears that the UN World Heritage Site Selection committee has is the loss of quality of life upon designation. That fear, sadly, has come to fruition in San Miguel. Many of us do not and can not leave our homes from Friday to Sunday evening or Monday morning........
Hopefully someone in our government is going to "snap to it" and do something to rectify this mess.
Times to visit when there is not that much traffic is April, when the Snowbirds leave. Then for a couple of months, when people seem to think it is hot here, there are not that many tourists. Times not to come are Easter, Independence Day,(September 15th), Day of the Dead - October 30th to November 2nd and Christmas from December 15th til January 6th which is Three King's Day. That is, unless you like big crowds.
Do I still love San Miguel as I start my eighteenth year here soon? Of course. But, I would like to see it be livable again for those of us who live here along with being more enjoyable for those who visit!