By: Angeles Santos, Cusco.
January 6, 2023. The day before, Calca, Cusco province, suspended the strike, whose statement calls for early elections and resignation of President Dina Boluarte.
pisac It is one of the most touristic districts of this Cusco province, the starting point of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Here is located, half an hour from the town, an observatory from where the Incas watched the stars and an irrigation system. There is a replica of the Machuppichu intihuatana.
We walk the streets of pisac that lead to its main square. There are few tourists. Lack of transportation to travel to the astronomical observatory. On the trip, community members comment that the cars were withdrawn due to the lack of passengers. Less than 200 visitors enter the Inca citadel (mostly nationals). Before they numbered between 1,500 and 2,000.
rene franco He has been making handicrafts for ten years: Andean looms, pots and musical instruments. He has a market stall. The December production is kept in stock. Sales are down.
The president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Cusco, john gonzales, maintains that, since the beginning of the protests, 80% of tourist packages have been canceled in Cusco. The entire Franco family is harmed by this tourist stampede. In addition to handicrafts, they provide lodging and food to foreigners.
René points out that in 2019 they could receive more than one minimum wage. Today they do not see that income.
The boxes close at zero some days. No orders since November. They hope to reactivate three years ago. First the pandemic, then the protests against Manuel Merino and Dina Boluarte. Misfortune for them does not give truce.
The tourist route of sacred Valley of the Incas is one of the most popular in the country. In addition to Pisac, it includes Coya, Lamay, Calca, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo and Chincheros. In 2019, it received three million visitors. According to the Cusco Chamber of Commerce (CCI), during the pandemic, the number decreased. The economic recovery was backfired by the constant strikes. It is estimated that they lost at least a million views.
Layoffs in hotels
carlos gonzales is a shareholder of the hotel The Colqas in Ollantaytambo, three and a half hours from the city of cusco. Last year, the businessman hoped to have at least 60% of his beds occupied. However, he reached 40%. The seven stoppages, political and social instability in the country have taken their toll.
2023 looks worse. For the first quarter of the year, most tourists canceled their trip due to the turbulent climate. Gonzales will reduce the hours of work and salaries of its collaborators.
“They canceled reservations until April. We will have no income for three months. It remains to be seen what will happen in the following months of the year”, Gonzales says.
According to approximations of the Ollantaytambo Chamber of Tourism, hotel companies in the Cusco region laid off 70% of their workers. There is no income to pay them.
The same drama is repeated in other companies in the sector. Berner Caballero owns the pisco museum, a tourist bar to taste good cocktails and drinks. Every day, 400 parishioners arrived, now in two days it does not serve even 60.
Cusco is the first tourist destination in the country. Puno and Arequipa depend on this region. The orphanage of Cusco drags its neighbors. If the country resolves its crisis tomorrow, the task will be to rebuild the image of the country.
“The visitor that you made him walk or miss the air flight back to his country will give an unfavorable opinion. That point of view will influence 30 fewer visits”says the tourist businessman from Arequipa, Jorge Valderrama.
René Franco, artisan:
“The artisans who depend on tourism reach out to foreigners. When they don’t come, we have no income. On the other hand, the brothers in the countryside are self-managing”.
Jorge Valderrama, tourism entrepreneur:
“We cannot live in constant paralysis, giving ourselves truces, as if we were in a constant fight. Already the image of Peru has been damaged regardless of whether future protests are peaceful.
Losses already exceed US$100 million
Jhon Gonzales estimates that the losses from the December and January strikes total more than US$100 million, not counting the cancellations in February and March.
The former president of the union of tourism agencies of Arequipa Jorge Valderrama estimates that per day not worked the sector loses S / 5 million. In the White City, 80% of the tourist packages were also cancelled.
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