The Oaxaca-Puerto Escondido Highway on Google

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Since its inauguration on February 4, 2024, the Barranca Larga-Ventanilla superhighway, better known as the Oaxaca-Puerto Escondido highway, has had a tremendous impact on the tourism of Puerto Escondido and much of the Oaxacan Coast region.

For example, the large flows of tourists generated after the opening of this 104-kilometer stretch, which reduces the travel time between the state capital and Puerto Escondido by more than half, have already alerted many people in this well-known tourist destination about the growing risks of environmental damage, price increases, and other negative effects of massification.

The purpose of this text is to observe a couple of interesting aspects of searches on Google Trends and Google’s autocomplete feature regarding the superhighway. The first thing I must say is that, as noted at the beginning of the text, very few people search for this communication route by its official name, as shown in the following image:

Highway vs. Superhighway

Of course, the communication route is a superhighway, with all the characteristics that this implies, but everyone seems to google it as a highway. Only in April 2023, perhaps coinciding with President López Obrador’s promise to soon inaugurate this route, searches with the term ‘superhighway’ seem to have a relevant entity, although severely overshadowed by the enormous popularity of the word ‘highway’.

Regarding the dates, arriving in Huatulco in 2007, and even then, this work was spoken of with great interest. Recently, it is read that its construction began in 2010. Let’s see what happens on Google when a search is made from the first mentioned date.

As can be seen, there are no searches on the mentioned dates, until a first peak of popularity in March 2013, which is repeated with similar intensities in the same month of 2015 and 2016, whose causes would be interesting to investigate. In any case, after December 2020, searches become much more popular, reaching a maximum in February 2024, the month of the highway’s inauguration, which is quite logical behavior.

Another question worth asking has to do with the topics related to the highway that most interest people. To answer it, we first turn to autocomplete, a tool dedicated to saving time for those of us searching for information on Google, suggesting the most common searches.

Firstly, the interest of people in the price stands out, as can be seen in the three terms used to inquire about it (‘price’, ‘cost’, and ‘toll booths’). But other searches also appear, such as ‘accidents’, ‘route’, or ‘inauguration’. With this in mind, we will go to Trends, to see the degree of correspondence between the appearance in autocomplete and the popularity of the same.

Such searches are shown in the following image, in which the blue line represents the search ‘Oaxaca Puerto Escondido highway cost’, the red line refers to ‘accidents’ (also for the highway), the yellow to ‘route’, and the green to ‘inauguration’. Additionally, I have added another search term: ‘Oaxaca Puerto Escondido highway time’, represented by the violet line. The result is shown in the following image, temporally limited to the interval between December 2020 and the present.

In this image, we can once again appreciate the great interest that price always generates, with three of the five search peaks. Price is an element of great importance in the tourism sector and many other sectors, if not all, as shown by countless perceptual maps, and here it seems to be no exception. The other two terms that appear in the figure are ‘accidents’ and ‘time’. However, what this figure seems to reflect the most is the lack of data; that is probably the reason why the image is not very informative.

This idea is supported by the following figure, which locates the relative popularity of the same searches over a different period: from January 1st to May 13th of this year, the date of the writing of this text.

Costs etc January-May 2024

Once again, only three search terms are appreciated, from left to right: ‘route’, ‘price’ (again the most popular), and ‘time’, located before and after the Easter holiday. As was commented regarding the previous figure, it is to be expected that, with a greater number of searches, we will have more and better data.

This leads us to the message with which I will close this text: although it is already possible to extract certain information of interest, it is necessary to periodically observe the behavior of the highway on Google Trends (and autocomplete), which can help us perceive the way in which the conceptions of the Mexican public about this communication route evolve.

Source: Entorno Turistico