The Programa Pueblos Mágicos (Spanish (help·info)) ("Magical Towns Programme") was an initiative led by Mexico's Secretariat of Tourism, with the support from other federal agencies, to promote a series of towns around the country that offer visitors a "magical" experience – by reason of their natural beauty, cultural richness, traditions, folklore, historical relevance, cuisine, art crafts and great hospitality.
The Mexican Ministry or Secretariat of Tourism acknowledges that México´s magical experience is not only in the famous sun and beaches, it is much more than that. The success of Mexico is due in part to the great Mexican hospitality and culture, which keeps many tourists coming back.
The Government created the 'Pueblos Mágicos' program to recognize places across the country that imbue certain characteristics that make them unique, historically significant, with great traditions, and offer magical experiences to its visitors. A "Magical Village" is a place with symbolism, legends, history, important events, festivals, traditions, great food, and fun interactive shopping, day-to-day life – in other words, "magic" in its social and cultural manifestations, with great opportunities for tourism. Every Pueblo Magico offers a special experience to the visitor.
The programme was launched in 2001 and after 9 years and 32 towns selected, it was improved and relaunched in 2010 with significant resources to unlock the potential and they were supported by a strategic campaign to promote them across the country. Every town was assigned a budget to continue improving its infrastructure, image, product offering and experience while making sure they were maintaining their traditions and their festivals were promoted.  By 2012 a total of 83 towns and villages in all 31 states have been awarded the title or nomination of Pueblo Mágico. The program created pride, recognition for its local citizens and it was part of the diversification strategy from Secretary of Tourism to promote culture and Mexican traditions.
The program has offered opportunities to citizens to create a living from tourism, and it has made significant contributions to the economies of not only the pueblos, but also the entire regions, as visitors' spending created important jobs in the towns with the most economic needs. Towns with over 5 thousand citizens are receiving more than 20 thousand visitors during the weekends, which contributes to the economy and the well-being of its residents.
In late 2018 it was reported that the program would be canceled and would not continue for 2019 due to the lack of support of the president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). However, in February 2019 Humberto Hernández, Under-secretary of Development and Tourist Regulation in the Ministry of Tourism, told a Mexican media outlet that the program would continue "more strongly than ever." Under the new strategy, while the tourism ministry will continue to handle qualification of prospective pueblos mágicos and promotion and branding of the program, it is expected that the state governors will handle allocation of government funds to projects in the towns.
- To structure a supplementary and diversified touristic supply within the interior of the country for locations that contain important historical and cultural attributes.
- To diversify the country's tourism offerings.
- To create and promote craftsmanship and support traditional festivals.
- To preserve local traditions, culture, ethnic customs and the unique cuisine.
- To create tourist products like adventures, extreme sports, ecotourism, festivals, local itineraries, wine and food activities and sport fishing.
- To reassess, consolidate and reinforce touristic attractions of these towns in the country which represent fresh and different alternatives to meet the rising demand of national and international visitors.
- To create jobs and reduce poverty.
- This program was also developed with the purpose of recognizing the labor of its residents who have kept their cultural and historical riches of their home towns.
In order to qualify for the program the towns should have a population of at least 5 thousand, and should be located no more than 300 km or the equivalent of traveling three hours by land from a city with a well-resourced market or good connectivity. In addition to the town's municipal and state authorities requesting incorporation to the Secretariat of Tourism so that they can make an assessment visit to evaluate the potential of the site, towns also had to meet specific requirements in order to be considered. The criteria included some of the following:
I. A formally constituted "Pueblo Mágico committee". This is a group of citizens who represent the pueblo or local community; if awarded the title, they were responsible for maintaining the declaration by working with the local citizens. Their job is to represent the residents of the town and their interests to make sure that the declaration will benefit all and by working together to maximise the opportunities. This group has to be diverse with no more than 15 people and their work is pro-bono. Group members should rotate periodically.
II. A town council accord which states an agreement to apply for admittance into the program. The local authorities have to support the inclusion in the program as their support is essential for the success of the town. This document provides formal support.
III. Agreement of the state congress; state support is needed to assign resources, mainly for infrastructure.
IV. Direct economic contribution towards touristic development in projects, action plans and programs. It is very important for each town to differentiate themselves from other towns. It should include the unique features of the town and why it should be considered.
V. An updated municipal touristic development program with a time frame of at least three years. A long term plan should be for 3 years to make sure the declaration is maintained, and the experience always improved. The program should be updated every three years.
VI. Updated rules and local regulations with a touristic focus during current administration of the Municipality. This is to support and protect visitors and people dedicated to tourism activities. Clear rules and regulations offer certainty and clarity to the importance of these activities.
VII. Evidence of symbolic attraction of the aspiring community, or what makes the town unique and differentiates it from other towns.
VIII. Health and public security services for tourists in case of an emergency.
IX. Private and social investment in touristic development and quality, including hotel rooms, restaurants, tours, museums, activities, etc.
X. Other elements that the committee considers relevant for touristic activity.
- The Pueblo's citizens committee and relevant stakeholders create the file containing all documents, details fulfilling all the requirements, and the request of candidacy to the Secretary of Tourism and the evaluation committee.
- A formal presentation with examples and details is made to the evaluation committee during a scheduled appointment in Mexico City.
- The formal committee has representation from Secretariats of Tourism, Culture, Environment and several other government officials.
- The evaluation committee reviews the file, ensures that all the requirements were met, conducts a physical inspection in the town, and reports back by documenting findings.
- If 100% of the requirements are met then they approve the nomination and turn matters over to the Secretary of Tourism who is responsible to visit the Pueblo, invite the local authorities and local residents, and give the new "nomination" or declaration at the same time that it has to take the oath to the local committee representing the citizens of the town.
- The local citizens and the committee are responsible to maintain the declaration and the town's "magic" standing. Nominations are not permanent, with annual revisions and audits for some towns.
- If an applying pueblo doesn't meet the requirements, the details are shared back to the committee, and the pueblo will be asked to provide any requested missing information.
- If the Pueblo doesn't qualify due to inability to meet the required attributes, a formal response is provided to the committee.
Mexico has more than 2500 municipalities; hundreds apply annually to this program with very few of them being selected. This is a very successful and prestigious program that provides benefits to local residents who benefit from the resulting economic activity bringing prosperity and various tangible and intangible benefits to their communities.
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Towns removed from the program
Below is the list of sites that were enrolled in the program, but had their titles revoked for failure to meet standards during the re-evaluation or audit. Two of them had their status restored and one received enhanced recognition.
|#||Image||Town||State||Registration Year||Retirement Year|
|1||San Miguel de Allende||Guanajuato||2002||In 2008 its status on the list was removed due to its inclusion as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.|
|2||Tepoztlán||Morelos||2001||In 2009 its status was removed, and then restored in 2010.|
|3||Mexcaltitlán||Nayarit||2001||Status removed in 2009.|
|4||Papantla||Veracruz||2006||In 2009 its status was removed, and then restored in 2012.|
Some governments have tried to eliminate the program for political reasons but because this model is a citizen-based program focusing on empowering communities, these efforts have been unsuccessful. According to statistics from INEGI, the Pueblo Mágico program has provided great economic value, and created jobs for its participating communities. The program has been recognised by several countries around the world, as a role model domestically and internationally. 
- "Destinan mil 900 mdp a 'Pueblos Mágicos'". www.zocalo.com.mx.
- https://www.mexicodesconocido.com.mx/destinos-vivir-dia-muertos-mexico.html Day of the Dead in Pueblo Magico
- https://www.sdpnoticias.com/economia/2019/02/12/gobierno-de-amlo-mantendra-el-programa-de-pueblos-magicos - SPNoticias,com, Gobierno de AMLO mantendrá el programa de Pueblos Mágicos (AMLO Government will maintain the Pueblo Mágico program), Feb. 12, 2019
- "Pueblos Mágicos, herencia que impulsan Turismo". gob.mx (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-03-06.
- Balslev Clausen, Helene; Gyimóthy, Szilvia. "Seizing community participation in sustainable development: pueblos Mágicos of Mexico". Journal of Cleaner Production. 111: 318–326. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.01.084.
- Pérez-Ramírez, Carlos Alberto; Antolín-Espinosa, Diana Itzel (2016). "Programa pueblos magicos y desarrollo local: Actores, dimensiones y perspectivas en El Oro, Mexico". Estudios Sociales. 25 (47): 217. ISSN 0188-4557.
- Uhnák, Adam (2014-06-01). "The Mexican 'Pueblos Mágicos'. A Qualitative Research Using Ethnological Methodology". Ethnologia Actualis. 14 (1). doi:10.2478/eas-2014-0001. ISSN 1339-7877.
- México, El Universal, Compañia Periodística Nacional. "El Universal - - Concierge Cómo identificar un pueblo mágico". archivo.eluniversal.com.mx (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-03-06.
- "DOF - Diario Oficial de la Federación". www.dof.gob.mx (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-03-06.
- "Las ventajas de ser Pueblo Mágico". www.elfinanciero.com.mx.
- "México tiene 10 nuevos Pueblos Mágicos". Expansión. 12 October 2018.
- "Example at internal level and to other countries" (PDF).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to |
- Secretariat of Tourism — Pueblos Mágicos — official website (Spanish).
- Visitmexico.com: The Pueblos Mágicos—Magical Towns — (Spanish).
- Pueblos Mágico de Jerez — (Spanish).
- Valle de Bravo - locale Pueblos Mágicos — (Spanish).
- Map with all the Magical Towns of Mexico - (English)