Tourism Cares Initiative spurs Peruvian preservation efforts.
Tuesday, 5th June 2012
Source : Tourism Cares
Tourism Cares, a US-based  travel industry group dedicated to preserving the travel experience for future generations, has spurred Peru's tourism sector to form Turismo Cuida, that country's first-ever travel industry based non-profit organization dedicated to preserving tourism related sites.

To kick off a two year collaboration, more than 25 high-level travel and tourism executives from the U.S. and their guests recently visited Peru May 3-7th, marking Tourism Cares' first multi-faceted global outreach initiative, and a first for the U.S. tourism industry.  The Tourism Cares delegation consisted of tour operators such as AARP Travel, Adventures by Disney, Avanti Destinations, Collette Vacations General Tours, Odysseys Unlimited, and Tauck; along with travel trade media, educational institutions and U.S. tourism suppliers such as TRIPMATE, Meridian Management, Amadeus and others.

"Tourism Cares' Global Outreach program mirrors what we do in the U.S.," said Bruce Beckham, Executive Director & CEO of Tourism Cares.  Accordingly, the Peru outreach program included an educational forum, the sponsorship of a fellowship for the Park Superintendent at Machu Picchu and the restoration of a site of cultural significance.  Most importantly, the Go Peru initiative resulted in formation of  whole new nonprofit --Turismo Cuida – "Tourism Cares" in Spanish -- dedicated to preserving and restoring natural, cultural and historic sites in Peru.

A Four-Part Program

"Go Peru," as the project is called, is a collaborative effort to share information on best practices in sales, marketing, sustainability, and customer service.    "We wanted to both learn and to help educate," Beckham explained.  "It was important to hear from Peruvian tourism officials about their challenges and where they needed help.  And, we wanted to share latest trends coming out of the U.S., which would help Peru's tourism industry know what the American traveling consumers want, and how Peru can take advantage of trends to seize a greater share of the tourism market," he said, noting that the U.S. is #2 in international visitation to Peru, behind only neighboring Chile.

The Peru visit began with an educational forum in Cusco to share ideas with 100 Peruvian  tourism sector participants.   The educational forum was followed by a visit to the World Heritage site Machu Picchu for immersion into Peruvian culture, which would help U.S. participants understand its customs, touristic opportunities, and challenges.  Among those challenges is to preserve Machu Picchu, the remarkable Incan ‘lost city' rediscovered 101 years ago, controlling visitation so that the site is preserved for the future, notes Beckham.  To that end, Tourism Cares is subsidizing a fellowship that will pay for the superintendant of the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu to spend three months at Everglades National Park learning about US methods in sustainability, visitation management, and other ways of preserving a natural site of significance and high visitation.

The Tourism Cares delegation also became the catalyst for a restoration of Cusco's Mercado San Pedro (Saint Peter's Marketplace), where the local Quechua (Inca) population shops for food and goods.  Located in the center of Cusco, the cultural attraction had been left in disrepair and unattractive to visitors, and the Tourism Cares mission was to paint the local landmark.  "When we told the people of Cusco that we intended to paint, we inspired them to begin a complete restoration. Locals even stripped down the existing paint to identify the Market's original colors," noted Beckham.

Last, but not least, Turismo Cuida is being created by 8 private Peruvian entities, which  have committed $80,000 for the next two years, to be matched by the Tourism Cares' Leadership Expedition participants.  Turismo Cuida (and Tourism Cares) will award grants over the next two years to natural, cultural, historic sites and educational programs that benefit the country.

"All in all, this groundbreaking global outreach was highly gratifying.  We came away inspiring the travel industry in another country to help preserve its heritage for generations to come," remarked Beckham.
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