LIMA – Peru took a big step toward reviving its tourist sector on Tuesday with the certification of the Andean nation’s adherence to COVID-19 protocols developed by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) as part of its “Safe Travels” initiative.
Peruvian Prime Minister and the minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Rocio Barrios, celebrated the awarding of the global safety and hygiene stamp, with a ceremony at the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, where they were joined by WTTC representatives.
“Obtaining this seal is truly very important for us,” Barrios told EFE. “We have had a quite restrictive quarantine and we are now opening activities to bring back tourism.”
“To receive this seal, the result of several months of creating and complying with protocols and meeting standardization (requirements), allows us to be a safe destination,” she said.
The WTTC established the Safe Travels seal to enable “travelers to recognize destinations around the world which have adopted standardized global health and hygiene protocols.”
Based on norms set by the World Health Organization (WHO), the protocols are tailored to the various elements within the tourism sector, including Hospitality, Attractions, Outdoor Retail, Aviation, Airports, Short Term Rentals, Cruise, Tour Operators, Convention Centers and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions), Car Rental and Insurance.
“What guarantees the seal is that we have those protocols, that everything is monitored and analyzed. And so the first thing we’re going to be able to demonstrate is that not only are we a reserve of cultures and wonders, but also we are safe,” Barrios said.
“We can also show that many of our destinations, such as Machu Picchu and Amazonia, are fresh-air tourism options, with all of the potential that has,” the minister said.
Saturday will see the launch of a global promotional campaign to revive Peru’s pandemic-battered tourism industry, she said.
“Three weeks ago, we resumed international flights, with seven destinations at the moment. We’re going to open up more from now forward,” Barrios said.
Even so, she said, Peruvians know that restoring tourism to the level before COVID-19, when the country received more than four million international visitors a year, will be a “gradual and long process.”
Jesse Takayama, a tourist from Japan, observed the awarding of the Safe Travels seal to Peru from a privileged vantage point as the first official visitor to Machu Picchu since the public health crisis erupted in March.
The lockdown trapped Takayama in the village that sits at the foot of the mountain citadel.
Last weekend, thanks to the intervention of the Culture Ministry and regional authorities, Takayama was led on an individual tour of Machu Picchu by the site’s director, Jose Bastante, that likewise served as a trial run for the new bio-safety protocols.
The Culture Ministry says that under the Safe Travels rules, the number of people entering Machu Picchu will be limited to 675 – 30 percent of normal capacity – and in groups of no larger than eight, with social distancing enforced.