Powerful mudslides in January of 2010 left more than 2500 tourists stranded in Aguas Calientes, the last village before reaching Machu Picchu. The event made international headlines and Peru’s crown jewel for tourism closed for several weeks while reconstruction efforts were carried out. However, these huaycos, as the mudslides are called by locals, may have been a blessing in disguise. Since virtually no tourist activity took place during those first weeks of the year, the government moved quickly to help recuperate losses by introducing special discount packages on hotels and flights under the label of Cusco Pone, directed mainly at Peruvians. Within the first month of the campaign, tourist activity in Cusco recovered 60-70%, proving that domestic tourism is a valuable asset.


Similar programmes with the same title continued through 2012, promoting different tourist destinations and boosting travel by Peruvians. The success of these initiatives can be seen in the growth of domestic tourism over the past few years, displaying a 15% jump in 2010 and rising another 17% in 2011, when internal trips amounted to more than 4.2m, according to Peru’s Export and Tourism Promotion Agency (PromPerú). Sector growth slowed in 2012, although internal travel still grew by 5% and is expected to grow by 4% in 2013, which Roxana Pérez Guevara, former market research coordinator at PromPerú, said makes sense for this segment. “As with any product, there is a limit to growth, but this does not mean its importance is decreasing,” she told OBG. “In fact, we have observed that national vacationers are travelling longer distances more frequently.” Domestic visitors mostly come from Lima, Arequipa, Huancayo, Trujillo and Chiclayo, and comprise 35% of those populations.

The “Pone” programmes’ success was such that PromPerú and Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism conceived a batch of stimulus campaigns for 2013 that will run for the next three years under the name, “So what are your plans?” (¿Y tú qué planes?) The first campaign, launched in November 2012, consisted of “The Northern Heartbeat” (El latido del norte), which offered up to 50% discounts on packages to Tumbes, Amazonas, Cajamarca, La Libertad, Lambayeque, Loreto, Piura and San Martín. PromPerú launched the campaign with a three-year time frame, with the following long-term goals: increase the number of domestic holidays, break season patterns of the demand through new destinations and strengthen partnerships with domestic tour operators.

Four separate advertising campaigns will run during 2013 to promote various destinations across the country. These include campaigns for the southern region, the Amazon region, the central region and the northern region, respectively. Pérez Guevara said one goal is to instil new travel patterns among Peruvians, especially in terms of taking advantage of time off at the weekends and during three-day national holidays.

Travel Culture

These promotional programmes are often a joint effort between the public and private sectors. Airlines, bus companies, hotels, travel agencies and restaurants are also involved. The National Chamber of Tourism (Cámara Nacional de Turismo, CANATUR) views this as a positive step forward for the industry. “Any initiative to promote domestic tourism is constructive,” Carlos Canales, president of CANATUR, told OBG. “But we can improve the results and one way is by programming travel with more anticipation and articulation.” For Canales, this means changing deeply ingrained Peruvian habits, in particular their tendency to buy tickets at the last moment when travelling for long weekends, a trait that often results in inflated ticket prices. Pérez Guevara agrees, “The culture of travelling does not exist for the national consumer. We come from an era of terror and then economic boom, and people are only now beginning to have the incentive to travel.” From her work in the provinces she has observed that many people view travel and activities related to entertainment as unnecessary expenses when they should be capitalising on economic growth and generating increased wealth for their families.