City Chronicles

Cancun is recognized worldwide for its spectacular white sand beaches and fascinating turquoise sea, in addition to the excellent air connectivity and first class infrastructure that place it as the leading tourist destination in Latin America. It is a multifaceted destination for unique experiences, combining glamour, nature, Mayan culture, and world-class services with seductive entertainment offerings and an extraordinary gastronomic scene.

Just five decades ago, Cancun was a desert island and few people knew of its existence. Located in the most abandoned region of the Caribbean, it consisted of a dune in the shape of seven, with some stretches barely 20 m wide, separated from the mainland by two narrow channels that connected the sea with a wide system of lagoons.

The shore was made up of swampy marshes and was generally surrounded by mangroves, virgin forest and unexplored beaches. Its exact name even offered doubts. In some maps the name of the site appears as 'Kankun' (a single word with the letter 'k'), which in Mayan means 'pot of snakes' or 'snake's nest'. But in the first acts of Infratur (before it became Fonatur), the designation appears separated into two words: Kan Kun and, sometimes, Can Cún (perhaps already in Spanish). Cancún, the current name, is perhaps due to phonetic comforts that obey habit? or to chance.

Officially, the Cancún project was authorized in 1969, but in practice it began in January 1970, when the first Infratur technicians arrived. The initial objectives were to open a road from Puerto Juarez to the island, design the master development plan and build a provisional airport (located in the urban area and making the runway coincide with a road, which would end up becoming the current Kabah Avenue, in front of the Ecological Park).

The basic guidelines of this master plan were three: 1) the construction of a tourist zone, without permanent residential areas, under the concept of a tourist corridor (given the characteristics of the land), with hotel facilities, shopping centers, golf courses and marinas; 2) the construction of a housing zone for permanent residents. In other words, an integral city, in the northern part of the territorial reserve, with residential and commercial areas, roads, public buildings, schools, hospitals and markets; and 3) the construction of an international airport, next to the Cancun-Tulum highway section (then under construction), in the continental massif, in the south of the island.


The development of the Hotel Zone was in turn divided into three stages. The first covered the entire area of Bahía de Mujeres up to Punta Cancún and the open Caribbean coast up to the interior limit of Laguna Bojórquez; the second covered from Laguna Bojórquez to Punta Nizuc, and the third from Punta Nizuc southwards, up to the limits of the territorial reserve.

The design and layout of the urban area responded to the concept of "supermanzanas", which is known architecturally as the "broken plate diagram". Large apples, separated by large avenues. The first urban layout of Cancun was made around what was to become the main artery of the city, Tulum Avenue. On the main property of this zone, the municipal palace would be located later.

In 1974, the first hotels in Cancún began operating (the Playa Blanca, the Bojórquez and the Cancún Caribe); the international airport was opened (with 2,600 m of runway and capacity to operate wide-cabin aircraft) and Infratur and Fogatur merged to form the National Fund for Tourism Development (Fonatur). This is the same year that the Territory of Quintana Roo becomes a state of the federation, and the Cancun project (belonging to the Isla Mujeres Delegation) becomes part of the Benito Juarez municipality.

From 1989 to date, Cancun has become the most dynamic city in the country. It contributes with one of the highest percentages of tourist currencies entering Mexico and participates substantially in the gross domestic product of Quintana Roo. 

Next April 20th, the company celebrates its first 50 years of existence and different celebrations and promotions are being prepared around this anniversary. This site hosts the information of all the activities that will be held with details of places, schedules, costs, etc. 

If you wish to contact us, please write to: cancun50aniversario@gmail.com