Peru has led economic growth in the region for the past decade. Tourism, with average growth of 9.6%, has become positioned as one of the fastest growing industries with the greatest potential in the country’s economy. Eduardo Ferreyros Küppers, Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, discusses the government’s plan to increase tourism arrivals to 7 million by 2021, how hosting APEC gives the country the perfect opportunity to promote its products, and trade relations with the US.
What do you believe have been the key factors in the growth of Peru’s tourism industry?
The tourism industry in Peru has undergone sustainable growth in recent years. A series of strategies were followed to make this possible. For example, there has been development of the Peru brand, the ¿Y tú qué planes? website, the rediscovery of tourist attractions, new investments, the promotion of gourmet cuisine, handicrafts and other efforts, all making it possible to showcase our country to the world. Remember that Peru is a country with an age-old culture, and its positioning on the world stage is one of a country with great opportunities.
President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s government has implemented a series of proposals to strengthen the tourism industry and has set the goal of doubling the number of visitors per year by 2021, reaching 7 million. What is the road map for this ambitious plan? What strategies are going to be put into practice?
We are pursuing an ambitious goal, and we will make every possible effort to reach 7 million visitors per year by 2021. The Peruvian government has been working as a whole to achieve this target. This is a task that depends on many different sectors, and we have been giving structure to the efforts made.
For example, work has been done to improve the infrastructure at airports in order to increase the number of flights and visitor arrivals that they can handle. We are also searching for new international airlines, promoting investments, seeking out new destinations and promoting new types of tourism (like convention tourism), along with other efforts.
Peru hosted the APEC Leaders’ Summit in November 2016. The 21 member economies account for 57% of world GDP as a group, and nearly half of all global trade. How can Peru take advantage of this moment of international exposure to promote tourism and trade?
The APEC Leaders’ Summit is a major event that had the whole world’s eyes on our country. The Peruvian government as a whole has been working to achieve the greatest possible benefits for the country.
As for tourism, we showed visitors the wide range of tourist attractions our country possesses, as well as its culture, handicrafts and gourmet cuisine. We must remember, too, that Peru is an extremely diverse country that has 11 eco-regions and is home to 84 of the 117 life zone types existing in the world. It is truly fascinating.
As for trade, we will continue to promote our products, mainly agricultural exports and value-added goods. Remember that we have trade agreements with the wide-ranging APEC economies, which drives us to keep promoting our products.
You were one of the predecessors to the free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States. Since the FTA took effect, traditional exports to the US have increased by 30% and non-traditional exports by 90%. How would you weigh up the FTA with the US and in what way do you think trade relations between the two countries can be strengthened?
The FTA with the US has been resoundingly favorable to our country. It has allowed us to increase our non-traditional exports, such as textiles, fish, coffee, cocoa, handicrafts, paprika, artichokes, grapes, mangoes, tangerines, asparagus and others. However, much work has yet to be done so that a larger number of Peruvian companies can benefit from the agreement. Our relations with the US are more than just trade relations. We have a special affinity with each other.
With about a half-million tourists per year, the US is the second most important country in number of tourists traveling to Peru. How important is the US market to Peru’s tourism, and how does Peru promote itself in that market?
The US is one of the main countries from which tourists arrive. It is quite a diversified set of tourists, and we have made great strides in that sense. We will continue to develop gourmet cuisine tourism, tourism specializing in activities like bird watching and cultural tourism, for those who come to visit our archeological heritage, and we are going to keep promoting this through campaigns in the largest cities where we hope to attract tourists in the United States.
Imagine for a moment that I am an American citizen, and I know hardly anything about Peru. A friend invites me to go on a trip to Peru with him. Why should I accept the invitation? What is going to make my trip a unique experience?
Because of the Peruvians’ traditional hospitality, our cuisine, and the endless unique options it provides as a space with culture and authentic nature. The importance of American visitors to Peru is great, which is why we have been working so hard to improve tourism sites and airports, so that people leave with a better impression and tourism grows more dynamic. In recent years, we have been promoting our country through PromPerú. Now we are working on a strategy to increase arrivals. Peru offers countless experiences, and we will be delighted to welcome visitors.
The US is not only Peru’s number two trade partner, but also a notable investor. How can US investors get more involved in Peru’s tourism industry? What investment opportunities would you highlight?
The economic stability offered by the country is a good sign for American investors, and the tourism industry is appealing in many different ways. We are currently completing the first cable car in Peru, in Kuélap, which will soon become a new focal point of tourism in the northern part of the country. Moreover, we believe there is great room for regional airlines and direct investment in tourism in priority destinations like Lima, Tacna, Tumbes, Piura, the northeastern corridor, and others.