We met with the executive president of PROMPERÚ, who heads this entity specialised in the promotion of tourism, exports and investments, attached to the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism.
A lawyer with more than 20 years of experience in these fields and with a solid background as demonstrated by her Master's studies specialising in Alternative Development Policies at the Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, she has analysed the reality of a large number of countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas.
She is therefore one of the leading professionals in tourism and trade in Peru.
Dear Ms. Carbajal, how do you evaluate the Tourism and Society Think Tank meetings held in Peru, in the cities of Lima and Tarapoto?
I am sure that all the participants in the dialogues held in the cities of Lima and Tarapoto, whether in person or virtually, have felt identified with the concerns and commitments arising from the exchange of ideas and experiences, being very positive and enriching, in favour of the promotion and development of tourism in our country.
I thank all the members of the Tourism and Society Think Tank (TSTT) for their contributions and active listening, which have given international visibility to the relevant and current issues of the tourism sector in our country, basically linked to the development of the sector, innovation in it and the potential we have for attracting business investment in tourism.
This view has been very important for Peru, as we are in a context of reactivation of the dynamics of the tourism sector itself, which contributes in a key way to the generation of employment.
I am pleased that companies in the tourism sector, as well as the academic community related to this industry in Peru, have benefited from the dynamic exchange of ideas, reflections and experiences fostered at the Encounters.
Of the guest speakers, which do you consider to have been closest to the social, economic and cultural reality of the country?
I consider that the speakers have accurately approached our reality, from the approaches of innovation, sustainability, entrepreneurship and attraction of investments in the tourism sector, each of them have a vast experience, being their presence very enriching for the development of the tourism sector in Peru.
It was a great pleasure to welcome Mohamed Taleb, United Nations diplomat, who has significant experience in sustainable development, to our country. Likewise, Fernando Olivera, Secretary of Tourism of the State of Tamaulipas in Mexico, who generously shared his many experiences in the development of the sector and in attracting investment.
We welcome the presence of Alexander Kammel, director of the International Committee of Film Tourism Festivals (CIFFT) and president of Filmservice International, whose opinions on the generation of tourist experiences, thanks to film locations and the competitiveness that exists between countries and cities to attract film producers, merit reflections that should be translated into public policies that bring together in a cross-cutting manner various state bodies that have to do with this attractive modality of promoting tourism.
We are also grateful for the contributions of Ms. Tamara Redondo, representative of investment funds dedicated to the provision of capital for the restoration of historic sites and buildings.
I would also like to greet the participants of the Academic Meeting, where we had the presence of renowned academic authorities such as Frank Babinger, Deputy Vice-Rector for Employability and Entrepreneurship of the Complutense University of Madrid, and Andrés Javier Rodríguez, Director of Liaison with institutions of the Ostelea Tourism Management School. Last but not least, I would like to thank Antonio Santos, president of the Tourist and Society Think Tank, for all the efforts made for the success of this important activity.
In view of national tourism development, what areas do you think need to be worked on more intensively?
We are going to work more intensively on the contribution of capacities for the digitisation of companies. We have found, through a diagnostic study carried out at the end of 2021 with companies in the sector, that there are clear digital gaps between tour operators, hotels and lodgings. For example, it is generally observed that travel agencies obtain a level of digitalisation of 42%, while hotels and lodgings obtain a much lower percentage of digitalisation: only 27%.
This is clearly illustrated by the fact that around one sixth of tour operators and hotels would be fully digitised in all areas of their business; only one third of these important traveller services keep up-to-date records of their customers and suppliers and only 2 out of 10 tour operators and 1 out of 10 hotels have a clear digital strategy in their business.
Let's talk about Peru's main markets. What are you planning for the coming months?
The United States is the leading country of origin of tourists to Peru, followed by Chile, Colombia and Mexico among the Latin American markets, and Spain and France among the main European countries of origin.
In the coming months, we will participate in the main international tourism fairs such as the World Travel Market in London, one of the most important international B2B fairs for our sector.
We will also be launching our new international promotional campaign "Start your adventure in Peru" which will be launched in Latin America, the United States and Spain, where we want to communicate that Peru is more than ready to welcome tourists to our various tourist attractions, connecting with nature and local culture with minimal impact on the environment and contributing to the sustainable development of the destination visited.
We are also working hard to attract events and incentives within the meetings tourism segment and we have participated in major trade fairs such as IBTM Americas, Fiexpo and we will participate in IMEX America.
Peru is one of the world's top tourist destinations. What does a country like yours offer and what makes it different from others?
Peru, in addition to its millenary history and culture, is one of the 10 megadiverse countries in the world, with a great variety of climates and natural areas that the world recognises as original. In Peru you will find marvellous experiences, which are even better contextualised if we refer to the fact that we are recognised, once again, by the WTA as the best gastronomy in South America.
Peru is a country that offers visitors 6 thousand traditional festivals, a great variety of popular art in every region that can be known, museums, archaeological sites and best of all, our people, who are cordial and close to the interaction with travellers.
Machu Picchu has again been singled out by the WTA as the great cultural attraction and emblem to identify Latin America, our Amazon has the recognition of being one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World in 2011. We have much to share with each traveller who visits us and we are happy that they can return to their countries of origin with experiences that in turn motivate new travellers.
What do you consider to be the keys to your country's tourism offer?
We have high-level tourism infrastructure for the different segments that we work with, such as high-end tourism, nature, adventure, meetings, among others. In addition, the warmth of the service that Peru offers its visitors is outstanding and we are pleased with this value.
In response to your question, I would like to emphasise, once again, that our gastronomy is our differentiating focal point for the visitor, the gastronomic experience that tourists can have throughout their journey through Peru is varied and exquisite, to say the least.
Gastronomic tourism is an interesting bet and a great challenge to consolidate the tourist offer of our country. The management of Peru's image as a first-class gastronomic tourism destination is positive and has enabled us to obtain recognition of international importance. For example, our country has been recognised nine times since 2012 as the World's Best Culinary Destination by the World Travel Awards organisation.
PROMPERÚ considers it strategic and necessary to prioritise attention to markets associated with gastronomic tourism, as a way of extending the country's positioning towards segments that contribute to the recovery of tourism and gastronomy at local, regional and national level.
Taking into consideration the current global situation, and thanks to your important knowledge, how do you foresee the evolution of the international tourism industry?
Although we have been experiencing different challenges at the global level that directly and indirectly affect the tourism industry, global indicators show that our sector continues to recover; the UNWTO reports that international tourist arrivals are close to 50% of the pre-pandemic level of 2019. Likewise, according to its latest edition of the World Tourism Barometer, 2022 is projected to end with a level between 55% and 70% pre-pandemic.
For its part, Tourism Economics estimates that by 2025, international travel in all regions will return to the levels recorded in 2019; globally, a growth of 9.7% over pre-pandemic levels is forecast, and in terms of regions, the Middle East (25%) and Europe (10.5%) will present the best forecasts.
It is also important to mention that despite the challenges ahead, people remain firm in their intentions to travel to Peru.
According to your significant experience in tourism development, what does Peru offer as a tourist destination that makes it different?
Our biological diversity is one of the main pillars of the national economy. The Peruvian Andes are one of the most important centres of diversity in the world. Peru is one of the world's most outstanding centres of genetic resources, both in plants and animals, in addition to being the first country in terms of potato varieties, we are leaders in chilli pepper varieties, and we have a great diversity of maize species, Andean grains, tubers, Andean roots and fruits. Peru is a great natural larder.
This availability of resources has forged a varied, tasty, unique and interesting local gastronomic proposal. The Andean cuisine, which to this day maintains recipes based on pre-Inca ingredients, the coastal cuisine, which dates back to colonial times, and the cuisine of the jungle, so vast but little explored, exuberant and exotic. Each of these cuisines has been able to assimilate influences while respecting the value of its originality.
Peruvian cuisine is a spectacle and travellers from all over the world visit us to discover the secret ingredients that make us so special.
Which of the experiences offered by Peru do you consider fundamental?
Peru is a multifaceted country, thanks to its diverse regions. You choose where you want to start looking at it, marking your own journey. As the cradle of one of the continent's great civilisations or as the gastronomic capital of the Americas, it offers many journeys in one. Peru is a special country. Its ancestral past has left a legacy of knowledge and monuments that are unique in the world. Its natural wealth overflows with resources, its cultural diversity is manifested through beliefs, traditions and artistic expressions that bear witness to a permanent mixture of races.
It is essential to visit the southern circuit where the visitor will be able to experience first hand the cultural tourist attractions such as the Nasca Lines in Ica, Lake Titicaca in Puno, as well as our impressive icon Machu Picchu.
We also strongly recommend to visit our Peruvian Amazon such as Loreto, Madre de Dios and the Amazon region.
Finally, our north awaits you with its delicious gastronomy and impressive museums and pre-Inca archaeological sites, identified as the Moche route between La Libertad and Lambayeque.
Taking into consideration your great knowledge of the countries of the Americas in general, do you consider that the tourism policies developed by the main countries in the region are aligned?
Yes, many of the policies at the South American level, especially in neighbouring countries, and for us as Peruvians, are allowing for economic reactivation.
The policies have been oriented towards health care and preservation, and also towards financial rescue measures. Colombia, for example, has issued regulations to reduce the Value Added Tax (VAT), which is our General Sales Tax.
In Peru, the IGV has been reduced from 18% to 8% for operators of tourist services; this regulation is in line with others issued by sister countries.
All countries have legislated, first, in terms of the health of citizens and visitors, and then they have thought about economic reactivation.
There are policies based on decisions to favour, for example, the mobilisation of domestic tourism as the fastest system in the short term, and on the subject of inbound tourism, the improvement of destinations in terms of infrastructure, air connectivity and good service is encouraged.
What do you think are the key points in the relationship between public institutions and the Peruvian tourism industry?
The joint work between the state and the private sector will allow for a joint reactivation. We know that companies in the tourism sector are very hard hit at the moment, their reactivation has not yet reached the levels they had pre-pandemic. In this sense, all government policies are aimed at strengthening measures such as the rescheduling of Reactiva Peru loans, for up to three years, for those who took out these loans at the time, in the midst of the pandemic.
The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism is encouraging the FAE tourism, which is another measure of financial leverage, through banks, savings banks and cooperatives, with low interest rates, for artisans and operators of tourist services, to take out loans that will help them economically until we recover the levels of visits, both in domestic and foreign tourism, thus encouraging the demand that is currently required for the reactivation.
As a promotional entity, PROMPERÚ has created the first virtual education platform of the Peruvian State, Turismo In, specialised in tourism, with users from the 25 regions of our country.
Similarly, through Turismo In, a freely accessible virtual platform with reports, videos, infographics, market research publications, which has won the Business Creativity Award, key information for the development of informed strategies in the sector (regional governments, municipalities, mypes, tour operators, academic sector) is made available to the actors in the sector (regional governments, municipalities, mypes, tour operators, academic sector).
After the pandemic, a war in Europe, and, according to economists, on the verge of a global economic crisis, what do you consider to be the main trends in international tourism and how will they affect your country?
According to a recent study by researcher STR, tourists' current concerns revolve around possible travel disruptions or restrictions, rather than financial constraints due to the global crisis. This reflects the fact that the desire to travel remains unchanged and that it is possible to address the issues by promoting greater coordination between industry players and more flexible services.
Forwardkeys also highlights that by 2022, travellers feel more ready to venture abroad, thanks to the reduction of health risks, border controls and uncertainty in bookings.
With regard to international tourism trends, one of the trends that has become more visible, precisely due to the pandemic context, is the possibility of combining the activities of travelling and working; this market niche is known as digital nomads. At the same time, after several periods of quarantine, outdoor activities have become more relevant, and with it, adventure and nature tourism. Tourists are seeking to make more conscious and sustainable choices throughout their travel experience.
On the other hand, gastronomic tourism continues to be in force and is positioning itself more and more strongly, as the majority of global travellers are in fact gastronomic tourists, which demonstrates the importance of this form of tourism and the economic impact it represents for destinations, with Peru being a privileged country in this respect.
In terms of the national context and according to the latest official projections, international tourist arrivals to Peru are expected to recover pre-pandemic levels by 2026, while domestic tourism travel flows could do so by 2025.
What is Peru doing for the digitalisation of the tourism industry?
Thanks to our Turismo In service, many trainings on digital tools, e-commerce, digital marketing and innovation have been developed to boost the digital transformation of tourism MSMEs. Likewise, PROMPERÚ's virtual tourism classroom - which has more than 9,000 registered users from all over the country - stimulates the use of ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies).
Innovation events have been developed (5 Startup Weekend Travel, a Hackathon and the In Challenge competition) to promote the development of technological solutions for the Peruvian tourism sector.
In addition, the travel promotion platform "Y tú qué planes" has more than 460 associated tourism entrepreneurs who promote their tourism offerings.
Let's talk about Peruvian citizens. What do you think is their vision of tourism?
According to the study monitoring the travel intentions of Peruvians, carried out by PROMPERÚ, thanks to the progress of the vaccination, the proportion of Peruvians who consider travelling in the next six months or less has increased from 58% in December last year to 65% in May this year, among those who used to travel before the pandemic, with the youngest people showing the greatest willingness to travel.
Ninety-one per cent would travel within the country on their next trip, with Cusco, Lima, Arequipa, Piura and Cajamarca being the destinations with the highest intention to visit.
Likewise, outdoor activities, such as nature, adventure, sun and beach, have become more relevant than they were before the pandemic and there is a tendency to seek more information before travelling.
In this sense, some tourism professionals in Peru are members of the Tourism and Society Think Tank and they tell us that the continuity of Peru's tourism policy is fundamental. Do you think that in the coming years there will be continuity or will there be some significant changes?
I believe that there is continuity, especially here in the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism. We are working on the basis of the National Strategic Tourism Plan, PENTUR, on which the horizon for the sector is designed. National policies are duly defined.
Dear Ms. Amora Carbajal, thank you for hosting the Tourism and Society Think Tank, and thank you for working for such a wonderful and magical country as Peru.
The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.