The number of U.S. visitors to Peru has tripled in the past 20 years and from 2003 to 2005, the number increased by 53 percent. American tourism figures will keep rising and the average length of stay will continue to get longer if Nicolas Nadramia has anything to do with it.
Travel Agent recently sat down with Nadramia, deputy
manager of market research and tourist information for PromPeru, to discuss
tourism developments in his country. PromPeru, short for the Commission for the
Promotion of Peru, was founded in 1993 to encourage tourism to Peru.
California is the largest U.S. feeder market for Peru visitors, Nadramia says, followed by Florida and New
York. The average length of stay is 13 days; and
nearly half of all visitors stay in either four- or five-star hotels. About 60
percent are FITs, and culture and nature rank high as interests to clients
traveling to Peru
Of all the stats Nadramia shared, he says proudly the fact
that "Eighty-two percent of visitors said upon their return that they
would definitely recommend a trip to Peru," is a testament to a
superior tourism product.
Beyond Machu Picchu
Don't be looking for a large photo of Machu Picchu in any of the tourism marketing
communications that Nadramia's office produces. "Machu
Picchu is already sold; Cuzco
is easy to sell," he says. Instead, Peru wants to raise awareness of
other sights and experiences in the country, such as the Nasca Lines, the
Amazon and various archaelogical sites and cultural experiences. The thought is
that when people know about these other sights, they will want to visit them,
and therefore stay longer and spend more money.
In the Peruvian desert, about 287 miles from Lima, are ancient forms
drawn in the earth by the Nasca people, who lived between 200 and 600 B.C. Only
seen in their entirety by air, the Nasca Lines depict people and animals
as well as geometric shapes, and cover about 19 square miles.
Only discovered in 1994, the Sacred City of Caral is
the oldest city in the Americas,
built more than 5,000 years ago. Two hours north of Lima, the site is open for tours. In 2005,
21,068 people visited Caral, up from 7,338 in 2003.
Another archaeological site, a fortress called Kuelap
in northern Peru,
has plans for improvements to its tourism infrastructure. Over the next five
years, a cable car that will reduce travel time from three hours to 30 minutes
will be built, and roads, signage and accommodations in neighboring cities will
be upgraded. Kuelap, which was built by the Chachapoyas in 550 A.D. and covers
nearly 15 acres, is surrounded by a 66-foot-high wall and has 45 circular
A mummy named Senora de Cao has been making a big
splash since she was discovered in 2005. A ruler of the Mochica people, a
pre-Incan civilization, she ruled 1,700 years ago. In excellent condition, she
will be on display in an exhibit that will also include her noble possessions,
in 2007 (exact date is TBD). The site where she was found is part of the El
Brujo archaeological complex in the town of Magdalena de Cao, 45 minutes from Trujillo.
About Machu Picchu
All that being noted, Machu
Picchu is the country's most popular tourist
destination. Last year more than 600,000 people visited this UNESCO World
Cultural and Heritage Site, which is open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are
a number of ways people can visit Machu Picchu
("OldMountain" in Quechua, the ancient
Cuzco, 43 miles southeast of Machu Picchu, is the
jumping off point for many travelers. There are three train options with
varying price points. The Backpacker train departs Cuzco
at 6:15 a.m. daily for $59.50; the standard tourist Vistadome train leaves Cuzco at 6 a.m. daily and costs $101; and there's Orient
Express' new Hiram Bingham luxury train, which departs Poroy (20 minutes from Cuzco) at 9 a.m. daily
except Sunday. Included in the $476 fare are meals, wine, entertainment,
guides, bus transfers, entrance fee, and afternoon tea at the Machu Picchu
Sanctuary Lodge. Essential
To see Machu Picchu
at sunrise, | before the crowds come, visitors can stay overnight at said
lodge, the only hotel adjacent to the site. There are also lodging options in
Agua Calientes, five miles away. Your athletic and adventurous clients may want
to consider approaching Machu Picchu
via a trek on the Inca Trail. Note that the trail's highest elevation is 13,776
feet, so acclimatization as well as good health is necessary for this option.
Jesus Lopez, director for Fiesta Tours International, an
incoming tour operator to Peru
since 1976, says he's noticed the changes in numbers of visitors and their
lengths of stay and says it's because of PromPeru's efforts. "They've been
making a generous campaign to raise consumer awareness of Peru in the U.S.," he says. According to
Lopez, in the first year, his business handled about 600 people; now they move
4,000 people a year.
On October 19, his company is launching a web site, www.perutravelplanners.com,
which is geared towards travel agents. It will outline a rotating list of their
18-20 wholesaler, tour operator partners, which Lopez says includes USTOA
members like Collette Vacations and Sunny Land Tours. Agents will be able to
pick from several in their geographic area. "They mainly work with travel
agents versus consumers," Lopez notes about these partners, adding,
"About 75 to 90 percent of their business comes through travel
The site will also have "very price-attractive
product," Lopez says, giving the example of $399 trip that includes Lima and Cuzco (but not
airfare or Machu Picchu).
As for the difference in his company's two web sites, Lopez says, "www.fiestatoursperu.com
shows wholesalers what products we have and www.perutravelplanners.com
is oriented to retail travel agents to visit and book a product."