By 2010, you probably won't be able to recognize Tela, a beachside town 87km (54 miles) east of San Pedro Sula. A major government tourism initiative, with help from the World Bank, is sure to turn Tela Bay into one of the most important beach destinations in Central America. Rumors have it that within a couple of years there will be several four- and five-star megaresorts, an 18-hole designer golf course, and a marina operating in the area. Controversy has been swirling around the project, though, as opposition groups are claiming that a Cancun-like resort would completely wipe out the already fragile ecosystem at the city's Laguna de los Micos and do little for the Garífuna communities there. These groups may have run out of luck, though. Ground has already been broken for one of the resorts, roads are now being expanded, and 20 new bilingual tourist police have already been trained and hired.
The conquistador Cristobal de Olid founded this city on May 3, 1524, the day of the Holy Cross, and gave it the name Triunfo de la Cruz. The abbreviation of the name, T. de la +, would eventually lead to the shortened name of Tela. In the early 1800s, the Garífunas began to arrive here from Roatán and set up communities all over Tela Bay, many of which are still around to this day. Toward the end of the century, the municipality began to form around the banana plantations of the Tela Railroad Company, a subsidiary of the United Fruit Company, which owned the Chiquita brand. The company monopolized city politics, until moving their offices to La Lima in 1976.
Today, as tourism has taken a firm hold of the city, its days as a banana republic are a thing of the past. While the skeletal remains of the Tela Railroad and United Fruit offices are gathering dust, the employee homes have been turned into one of the country's finest resorts, the Hotel Telamar.