Local tourism and special discounts: the South American bet to revive the sector

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While it is not clear when the borders will be reopened in the face of the health crisis, countries like Peru or cities like Quito, Ecuador, are betting on domestic tourism to revive one of the sectors most affected by the pandemic.

Quito, the emblematic Ecuadorian capital, is preparing to come out of the pause caused by the coronavirus and enter a progressive phase of social and economic reactivation in which the municipality will gradually open the way to a "new normality" and the return of tourism, for the time being locally and nationally.

The city, a World Cultural Heritage Site, wishes to reactivate as soon as possible one of its main engines of development and reposition the city as a tourist destination. It will do so through a campaign in which it will evoke its potential through all kinds of memories and experiences of different characters, local and international, who visited the city before the pandemic. "The idea is to tell the stories", to highlight emblematic sites such as the Middle of the World, the Historical Center, the rural areas, the experiences of its people, with complementary elements such as gastronomy and culture, explained to Efe Carla Cárdenas, general manager of Quito Tourism.

Aware that this is one of the sectors that will take the longest to recover from the shock of the COVID-19, the high official emphasized that in the post-Coronavirus era they will focus on local tourism, the nearby one, emphasizing concepts such as "security" and "trust".

The city went into massive isolation on March 16 to contain the coronavirus. However, during the quarantine, the municipality carried out the campaign "Your story begins in Quito" which accompanied the citizens through places full of magic and history, architecture and art, gastronomy, music and legends that run through the narrow streets of the colonial center and the wide avenues of the modern part.

The new normality in Ecuador, which in principle foresees the restoration of flights on June 1, will be marked by biosecurity protocols and there are already - for example - rules for the reopening of restaurants, cafeterias and hotels. Schedules and seating capacity, disinfection processes, training, group management, safety clothing, accommodations, interpersonal and table distance, as well as giving priority to payment by credit card or online are some of the measures to avoid contagion. Quito received more than 685,000 visitors in 2019 and, between January and February, more than 100,000.

Machu Picchu will be free for minors and over 60 years old
The entrance to the citadel of Machu Picchu, in Peru, will be free for minors and those over 60 years old, both nationals and foreigners during the second half of 2020, as part of the measures adopted by the Government of Peru to revive domestic tourism. In addition to Machu Picchu, the country's main tourist attraction, tourists will also be able to visit 54 other sites of cultural interest and 22 natural protected areas free of charge from July 1 to December 31. The list published in an official decree also includes other tourist attractions such as the Nasca Lines and several Inca attractions.

In order to reopen the country's main tourist attractions, the government will issue more regulations within the next 30 days to regulate visits according to Ministry of Health protocols. For now, the Peruvian executive allocated 20 million soles (over $4.8 billion pesos) to adapt tourist facilities to prevent contagion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The quarantine will be maintained for now until May 24th, when the government hopes that some of these measures can be relaxed as the reactivation of transport nationwide from June, which would also facilitate the gradual resumption of the tourism sector. However, there is still no possible date for reopening the borders to international tourism. Foreign Minister Gustavo Meza Cuadra said this weekend that "reopening borders is not yet in the plan, we are going to have to ensure health mechanisms such as rapid tests and quarantines.

Peru is evaluating rapid tests of Covid-19 and quarantines in certain cases when it reopens its borders. The National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur) has stated that the Peruvian tourism sector is going through "a dramatic situation", and therefore requested urgent measures to avoid the closure of thousands of businesses where 1.5 million people work.