Pe­ru Wants You to Com­pe­te

THE SOUTH AME­RI­CAN NATION HAS FOUND OUT IT HAS WHAT IT TA­KES TO TAP IN­TO A MAR­KET SEGMENT CLOSELY TIED TO THE HOS­TING OF BIG-TIC­KET SPORT EVENTS

Excelencias Turísticas del caribe y las Américas - - Tu­ris­mo Al­ter­na­ti­vo / Alternativ­e Tra­vel -

In tou­rist terms, Pe­ru is Ma­chu Pic­chu. So are the enig­ma­tic Naz­ca li­nes, alt­hough one can­not un­de­res­ti­ma­te an exu­be­rant gas­tro­no­mic cul­tu­re that, for many, ranks among the most ex­qui­si­te on the fa­ce of the pla­net. But this South Ame­ri­can nation, an­cient crad­le of the In­ca ci­vi­li­za­tion and bles­sed with an unu­sual coastli­ne and dazz­ling landscapes in its moun­tains and jun­gles, aims at a who­le lot mo­re.

And in the midst of the­se as­pi­ra­tions to mul­tiply its pro­po­sals, it has dis­co­ve­red that it has what it ta­kes to ex­ploit its po­ten­tial wit­hin a segment of the mar­ket closely lin­ked to the ce­le­bra­tion of ma­jor spor­ting events. To­day, Pe­ru is al­so bet­ting on high com­pe­ti­tion.

If a hall­mark were to be sought in this new fa­cet, it would un­doub­tedly be the hol­ding of the most re­cent Pan Ame­ri­can Ga­mes in Li­ma. Not­hing was the sa­me af­ter that sout­hern win­ter of 2019, when the main Pe­ru­vian city hos­ted thousands of ath­le­tes, coaches and fe­de­ra­tions from all over the Ame­ri­cas, thus be­co­ming the epi­cen­ter of con­ti­nen­tal sport.

At that ti­me, the city's in­fras­truc­tu­re ma­de a re­mar­ka­ble leap for­ward by ad­ding a wi­de net­work of sports fa­ci­li­ties, a fact that many ca­pi­tals in the sout­hern co­ne can­not boast to­day. At the sa­me ti­me, in the eco­no­mic field, the event was taken by its or­ga­ni­zers as a suc­cess.

Ex­perts say that bet­ween 2016 and 2019, the pre­pa­ra­tions first and the Ga­mes la­ter, ge­ne­ra­ted a fi­nan­cial mo­ve­ment of around 5.2 bi­llion do­llars. While in the­se ca­ses it can take years to re­co­ver most of the in­vest­ment - or even ne­ver arri­ve - this ti­me the lo­cal eco­nomy re­cei­ved nearly $350 mi­llion in re­ve­nue through the lei­su­re in­dustry, ac­cor­ding to da­ta from the Na­tio­nal Cham­ber of Tou­rism (CANATUR).

The sa­me ins­ti­tu­tion reported that Li­ma wel­co­med mo­re than 50,000 fo­reign tou­rists and twi­ce as many na­tio­nals, who ca­me from dif­fe­rent regions of the country to enjoy the re­mar­ka­ble event.

To tell the truth, alt­hough the 2019 Pan-Ame­ri­can Ga­mes in Li­ma stand as a reference, they ha­ve been part of a stra­tegy that be­gan six months ear­lier with the Da­kar Rally and con­ti­nued with the hos­ting of the fi­nal match of that year's Co­pa Li­ber­ta­do­res bet­ween Ar­gen­ti­na's Ri­ver Pla­te and Bra­zil's Fla­min­go.

The fa­mous ra­ce in ex­tre­me con­di­tions, run en­ti­rely in the Pe­ru­vian de­sert, and last held on South Ame­ri­can soil, at­trac­ted so­me 7,000 fo­reign vi­si­tors and left pro­fits of so­me US$60 mi­llion in the ho­tel sec­tor and related ac­ti­vi­ties. Alt­hough a les­ser im­pact was ex­pec­ted, si­mi­lar num­bers were reported in the first fi­nal of the sin­gle match of the le­gen­dary foot­ball tour­na­ment, which had the Mo­nu­men­tal sta­dium in Li­ma as an alternativ­e ve­nue when the so­cial out­burst in Santiago de Chi­le for­ced the re­lo­ca­tion of the ve­nue.

With the­se ex­pe­rien­ces at hand, Pe­ru re­dou­bled its ef­forts to en­su­re that this mar­ket segment would be able to sur­pass the pre­vious year's stan­dards by 2020: 4.2 mi­llion tou­rists and revenues of US$ 5.2 bi­llion.

The allian­ce bet­ween the Mi­nistry of Fo­reign Tra­de and Tou­rism (Min­ce­tur) and the or­ga­ni­zing team of the Pan Ame­ri­can Ga­mes of Li­ma 2019 to at­tract im­por­tant events that could take ad­van­ta­ge of the in­fras­truc­tu­re be­queat­hed by the con­ti­nen­tal event, was the star­ting point. And to ma­ke this dream co­me true, the Com­mis­sion for the Pro­mo­tion of Ex­ports and Tou­rism (Pro­mPe­ru) de­sig­ned a broad pro­ject, in which the im­pul­se to sports tou­rism stands out in or­der to "cap­tu­re the grea­test num­ber of tra­ve­lers that arri­ve to the country to enjoy the events of in­ter­na­tio­nal le­vel.

The pro­po­sal in­clu­ded do­zens of com­pe­ti­tions of dif­fe­rent le­vels of con­vo­ca­tion and pre­emi­nen­ce, among them, the World Ska­te Li­ma Open, a qua­li­fier of that dis­ci­pli­ne for the Olym­pic Ga­mes of Tok­yo 2020, and that for its ca­te­gory 5 ap­pea­red as one of the lea­ders that could at­tract the best ska­ters of the pla­net and ge­ne­ra­te in­co­me of bet­ween 10 and 12 mi­llion do­llars, ac­cor­ding to ex­perts.

Al­so in the port­fo­lio stood out as re­le­vant, in terms of im­pact on tou­rism, the ce­le­bra­tion of the World Men's Foot­ball Cham­pions­hip, U-17 ca­te­gory, as well as the pro­cess of qua­lif­ying for the World Cup Qa­tar 22, by the high ex­pec­ta­tions of the lo­cal ga­mes against the teams of Bra­zil and Ar­gen­ti­na.

Alt­hough the un­cer­tainty that the world is ex­pe­rien­cing due to the trans­mis­sion of the let­hal co­ro­na­vi­rus has for­ced plans to be post­po­ned, Pe­ru­vian tou­rism aut­ho­ri­ties ha­ve con­fir­med that they will not aban­don their in­ten­tion to ma­ke sport one of the dri­ving for­ces of this ac­ti­vity.

Their idea is that Pe­ru will not lo­se the good repu­tation of being a suc­cess­ful host that has ac­com­pa­nied it sin­ce last year, and thus take ad­van­ta­ge of the ra­pid growth that sports tou­rism is ex­pe­rien­cing, as in­di­ca­ted in the study Key trends in sport tou­rism, pre­pa­red in Sep­tem­ber 2019 by the in­ter­na­tio­nal con­sul­ting firm Glo­ba­lDATA.

BE­YOND THE STA­DIUM

Fi­gu­res from Plun­kett Re­search Group es­ti­ma­te the si­ze of the glo­bal sports in­dustry at $1.7 tri­llion, a num­ber they pre­dict will re­main high. And alt­hough the­re are several fac­tors that jus­tify the­se pro­jec­tions, many agree in high­ligh­ting, among them, the irrup­tion of the so­ca­lled emer­ging sports.

The World Cup or the Olym­pic Ga­mes will con­ti­nue to be at the fo­re­front of in­ter­est, but exam­ples such as the 2018 World Men's Cur­ling Cham­pions­hip in Las Ve­gas add to the­se trends. In just 9 days, that event ge­ne­ra­ted nearly 9 mi­llion do­llars and had an at­ten­dan­ce of mo­re than 74,000 spec­ta­tors, of which mo­re than 75% ca­me from abroad.

Pro­fes­sio­nal vi­deo ga­me com­pe­ti­tions (e-sports) are on the sa­me wa­ve­length, such as the 2017 fi­nal of the In­tel Ex­tre­me Mas­ters, which gat­he­red mo­re than 175,000 spec­ta­tors in Po­land for two weeks.

Be­yond the twenty or so le­vel fa­ci­li­ties left by the Pan Ame­ri­can Ga­mes in Li­ma 2019, few na­tions li­ke Pe­ru ha­ve the na­tu­ral re­sour­ces to pro­mo­te the practice and com­pe­ti­tion of ex­tre­me sports, which are en­jo­ying in­crea­sing po­pu­la­rity glo­bally.

A de­sert coast, a high moun­tain ran­ge and a lush jun­gle, as well as fast-flo­wing ri­vers and la­goons, are ideal places to li­ve ex­pe­rien­ces full of adre­na­li­ne, in the practice of mo­da­li­ties such as moun­tai­nee­ring, trek­king, ca­noeing or raf­ting, pa­ra­gli­ding or sand­boar­ding. And all this is ac­com­pa­nied by mi­lle­nary tra­di­tions.

It is a reality that when des­ti­na­tions in­te­gra­te their cul­tu­re to the events they or­ga­ni­ze, they stand out and provide aut­hen­tic lo­cal ex­pe­rien­ces that tou­rists ap­pre­cia­te. Thus, it is not sur­pri­sing that events li­ke the Half Ma­rat­hon Des Sa­bles, which has al­ready had a couple of edi­tions in the im­pres­si­ve de­serts of the Ica re­gion, ha­ve been used to strengt­hen the po­si­tio­ning of the Pe­ru­vian ad­ven­tu­re and na­tu­re tou­rism of­fer, and with it in­crea­se the flow of vi­si­tors.

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