Tourism is already a priority for Peru’s brand-new President Ollanta Humala, sworn in on July 28. The nation’s third-largest industry (after fishing and mining), tourism is also Peru’s fastest growing. Classic destinations such as Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and the Nazca Lines are enjoying record crowds, to the point that the government has been limiting visitors to the most popular spots.
To compensate, Peru is promoting other pretty spots, from the gorgeous stone architecture of Spanish Colonial Arequipa, to the high-altitude town of Puno that overlooks glittering Lake Titicaca, to the site of the Inca Empire’s last stand, Cajamarca, also famed for its hot springs and ice cream. Peru is by any estimation a magnificent destination, and could keep an adventurous tourist on the road for months.
Unlike most other Latin American nations, however, Peru lacks a government ministry to coordinate the tourism industry, which employs 10.8% of the Peruvian labor force (824,000 people), producing a whopping 7% of the nation’s gross domestic product.
Instead of a dedicated Ministry of Tourism, the government has patchwork quilt of public entities overseeing Peruvian tourism, including CANATUR (National Bureau of Peruvian Tourism), which “promotes sustainable business development and growth of the tourism sector as a basis for social and economic development of Peru”; PROMPERU (Commission of Promotion of Peru and Exportation of Tourism), in charge of foreign advertising; and MINCETUR (Ministry of Foreign Commerce and Tourism), which “defines, directs, executes, coordinates, and supervises the policies of foreign commerce and tourism,” regulates arts and crafts, and operates iPerú, with a dozen tourist information offices located around the country.
The system is obviously working—according to OTP (Peru Observation of Tourism), yet another government office—this one in charge of compiling tourism statistics—the tourism sector grew almost 4% in 2010, despite the global economic downturn. But it’s far from efficient, and the Humala administration is taking the opportunity to consolidate tourism efforts under a new Ministry of Tourism.
The first step is the implementation Tourism Security Assistance Network, proposed by CANATUR, which will help the Tourism Police provide more security and assistance to travelers all over the country. New and improved rail service will also be designed with tourists in mind.