Blair break threatens Mexican paradise

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Indy Politics

Mexican environmentalists fear Tony Blair's choice of holiday destination in Cancun will fuel a tourist boom in a region where the fragile eco-system is in danger of collapse.

They say nesting grounds of rare loggerhead and green marine turtles of the Quintana Roo state are becoming overrun by sunbathers along the so-called Maya Riviera, which stretches south of Cancun to the Sian Kapan bio-reserve and that the Prime minister's visit could make things worse.

Mexican Greenpeace protesters said high profile visits to tropical paradise Cancun, are killing off turtles and snakes. 'Blair's trip can do harm,' said Jose Quiroz, a Green activist. 'More people on the Maya Riviera is exactly what Mexico doesn't need.'

The purpose-built resort, on the easternmost tip of Mexico, was not even marked on maps until the 1970s. It grew after a drug cartel in the 1990s invested in property there as part of a drug money laundering operation.

Far from the 1970s thatched cottage lifestyle are the hotels that house three million visitors a year including George Bush's daughter, Barbara. Concentrations of sunbathers in Spring disrupt breeding turtles.

Tourists snorkelling have also ruined coral reefs and apart from the turtles, they are squeezing out Jaguars, alligators and boa constrictor – all protected species.

The natural resources minister, Victor Lichtinger said: 'Tourism has to be based on protecting Mexico's beauty.'