Breaking Travel News interview: Maria del Sol Velasquez, tourism director, PromPeru
As the tourism industry in South America begins to take its first steps into the post Covid-19 world, Breaking Travel News here chats with Maria del Sol Velasquez, tourism director of PromPeru, to find out what might be different as travellers return.
With the destination also nominated for a number of top titles at the World Travel Awards, Peru is participating in the organisation’s #Together initiative.
The drive aims to galvanise the recovery efforts of the global travel and tourism economy.
It serves an on-going resource of information, practical advice and insights from the travel industry’s thought-leaders and decision-makers by pooling collective knowledge and fostering cooperation.
Find out more below.
Breaking Travel News: You have recently removed mandatory quarantine for international tourist arrivals – have you noticed a rebound in arrival numbers yet?
Maria del Sol Velasquez: It has been more than a complicated year in the tourism sector, in which Peru immediately began to work on protocols and reactivation measures that, to this day, continue to be implemented, improved and adapted according to the level of control of the pandemic.
One of the restrictions has been the targeted quarantine that has been modified throughout the year.
Currently, there is a 14-day quarantine that might be avoided when the passenger takes an antigen test upon arrival in Peru and, as long as its result is negative, they can carry on with their schedules.
Additionally, all travellers must come with a negative molecular test result, taken up to 72 hours before the flight to Peru.
This has been working quite well since it allows us to have control over international arrivals and also gives the traveller the peace of mind of being able to take tests upon arrival and departure from the country (if required), at the airport, in their hotels or laboratories.
This year we have seen a favourable increase in arrivals within the logical expectations of the pandemic and every effort is important to be able to control prevention measures and protocols before, during and at the end of the trip.
Also, Peru received lately the Safe Travels seal, awarded by the World Travel & Tourism Council, which recognises tourist destinations in terms of safety and hygiene in the face of Covid-19.
To date, Peru has several destinations that have obtained the Safe Travels seal such as Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, Cusco city, Miraflores, some Piura beaches, Iquitos and the Amazon river, among other destinations.
BTN: How do you see the next year taking shape for inbound tourism to Peru? With the resumption of international travel thankfully back on the horizon due to the vaccine rollout, are you expecting a busy second half of 2021?
MV: Definitely. We are aiming for a gradual reactivation of tourism, currently domestic and then international.
Although the borders are open and there are already plenty of flights available to come to Peru, the situation of the pandemic does not allow a massive flow of tourists yet.
However, the measures and protocols have already been implemented for some time in all sectors and there is great expectation of trips to Peru as a dream destination abroad.
BTN: Describe how the lockdown experience was in Peru, and how this compared to the bustle of normal times in world-famous sites such as Cusco and Machu Picchu
MV: The lockdown has been devastating for the travel industry around the world and Peru has been no exception.
But it has helped to formalise and work together protocols, security measures in the private and public sphere, working hand in hand and thinking about how to improve tourism services in the future.
In Machu Picchu and Cusco particularly, nowadays they have the Safe Travels seal, and the hard-hit tourism sector has the highest standards of quality and precision in protocols, in addition to the already known cordiality and kindness that characterises them.
While Machu Picchu now operates at minimum capacity, the entrance control and the circuits created to keep significant social distancing allow tourists to enjoy an unforgettable and safe visit.
It also helps a lot that the citadel visit is an outdoor activity and that visitors feel extra security by being in a ventilated place and with all the safety protocols.
BTN: Why is collaboration across the global travel industry essential to navigating the post-pandemic landscape?
MV: We firmly believe that today, more than ever, we need to create alliances, collaborations and joint work between all sectors, whether private or public.
The pandemic has shown us how fragile the industry is and how long it can take to recover, as well as to detect threats in a timely manner and know how to react in advance to possible crises.
It is important that solutions can be provided from each perspective and, above all, an optimal response capacity to be able to face future situations more effectively, avoiding to impact anyone negatively.
Communication between governments and private sectors is essential to take adequate prevention and care measures.
Likewise, in a post-pandemic era, it will be necessary for the travel industry to play an important role in order to effectively reactivate the worst hit economies, generate employment and opportunities.
BTN: The world cannot wait to start travelling again. What makes Peru such an ideal destination for a dream holiday?
MV: Peru is a country that has it all: great landscapes, nature, adventure, history, world-renowned gastronomy, high quality and luxury services and diversity.
It is a destination that you can hardly forget once you know it.
It is all about the kindness of Peruvians with visitors, a warmth similar to the feeling that you are at home.
With impressive hotels, historical sites everywhere, dreamy beaches, incomparable Amazon, the majestic Andes with snow-capped mountains and crystalline lagoons, Lake Titicaca and its communities that maintain ancestral traditions.
Machu Picchu is just the beginning of this great adventure that Peru is.
BTN: What trends in travel and tourism do you see emerging in the aftermath of the crisis?
MV: I can anticipate that nature and adventure tourism will be relevant for many years.
Open spaces, parks and nature reserves will be the protagonists, not only because of the long confinement to which we have been subjected, but also because of the renewed respect for our ecosystems, the environment and because we value more than ever what the earth gives us every day.
Smart cities, immediate services through applications, everyone will adapt to technology and use more than ever those tools that, in the end, will make life easier for us when traveling and on a daily basis.
I also see that the issue of flexibility could remain due to the need of passengers to buy services with a change option, and with clear lessons from past mistakes.
BTN: Have you had any positive changes in your own outlook in reaction to the crisis?
MV: Even from the worst situations one can take many lessons.
Ways in which one could have acted better, faster, more efficiently.
It often happens after a crisis that people, teams, generate improvements in processes, communications, the way to solve problems and, even learn to anticipate, solving them before they become a crisis.
I think that, in the specific case of the travel industry, there are many lessons, many ponderings that are going to be left to improve in every way.
One of them is the need to handle truthful information and data to be able to make quick decisions, generate a more fluid and constant communication with different stakeholders, maintain high standards of cleanliness, safety and health in all spaces such as hotels, airports, airplanes, and in general public spaces forever, among other improvements that could be adapted over time.
Peru is currently in the running for the title of South America’s Leading Culinary Destination at the World Travel Awards.
Head over to the official website to vote.