Peruvians usually proclaim how many wonders this beautiful country has to offer to anyone who wishes to discover our millenary and rich history. We do not only conquer tourists through sight and hearing, but we also enchant their palate with endless recipes and flavors through gastronomic tourism.
On this occasion, we present Peru Well Served (PWS), a company that aims to give a complete experience to those who want to know Peru in an authentic way, with the help of allies that enrich it with an immense variety of places. , wonderful views and delicious typical dishes that represent peruvian culture.
We interviewed Alexia Harten, co-founder and general manager of PWS, and these were her impressions about the tourism and gastronomic sector, where PWS concentrates all her dreams and efforts on a daily basis.
Which aspects make Peru a favorite tourist destination in your opinion?
Mainly the richness of our 3 regions that gives us an infinite variety of inputs, dishes, experiences and places to visit. Really in Peru there is EVERYTHING: adventure, culture, gastronomy, luxury, economic options ... whatever the traveler is looking for, he finds.
And which other aspects should improve to keep it that way?
Definitely the infrastructure. We have many destinations in the mountains and amazon jungle of our country that could be a tourist power, but the little development of their access roads does not make it very attractive for tourists, or makes travelers spend very long and not so pleasant moments on trails that should be roads.
Do you think that Peru is ready to go to the rhythm of the digital and dynamic tourism that we are experiencing?
In terms of capacity, I think so. In Peru there are a lot of tourist offers, and that gives us the capacity to receive millions of travelers annually. The problem is that these millions of tourists tend to be concentrated in a few regions that are the most visited. If there is something we must work on, it is to decentralize the tourist route so that the economic and social impact generated by tourism reaches more Peruvians.
As for digitized tourism, I think there is a lot to develop. Our tourism is still quite traditional and personal. I think there may be a component of "fear" that digitization could replace jobs in some links of the chain. And in a country where thousands of people make a living from tourism, some resistance can be felt.
How much has Peru grown in the tourism and gastronomic sector in the most recent years, respectively? What factors have generated this growth?
Until before the pandemic, the tourism sector had grown more than 35% in the last 5 years. According to Mincetur, in 2014 we received 3.2 million tourists, while in 2019 we received more than 4.4 million. Definitely, the pandemic has drastically changed these numbers towards the near future. For 2021, the visit of only 1.2 million international visitors is projected.
The growth of the gastronomic sector has also been very important. For several years, we have experienced the boom of Peruvian gastronomy not only internally, but also worldwide.
Peru has been recognized for 8 consecutive years as the best culinary destination in the world by the World Travel Awards (the Oscar award of tourism). The whole world has begun to recognize Peruvian food as one of the most special and that has motivated many trips abroad and has given us a very important reason for being proud of our country.
Do you think that we are classified only as a gastronomic destination and this results in leaving aside other aspects of our culture? How to avoid falling into that?
No way. I think foreigners recognize the richness of Peruvian cuisine, but even the main reason for trips to Peru is still Machu Picchu (although the food has risen a lot in the ranking). In addition, foreigners recognize and highly value the great biodiversity that we have and it is a spectacle that they do not want to miss. Gastronomic tourism is not exclusive to other types of cultural or adventure activities, but complementary. When doing this type of tourism, you not only eat and talk about gastronomy 24/7 ... in fact, between meals there are other types of activities.
What do you think the gastronomic tourism business needs to continue growing? Is it an effort solely from within or does it require the attention of external or international agents?
I think it is necessary to educate the traveler about what gastronomic tourism is, to demystify some details. Some think it's just taking a tour to a restaurant and eating delicious food, but it actually goes much further.
There is a global food tourism association (World Food Travel Association) that really does a great job in this regard, but it is also important to talk about it from within. Here PromPerú could play a key role.
In March 2021, a year after the start of the pandemic, the tourism sector began its reactivation in Peru, therefore, so did the gastronomic sector, with the aim of continuing the path as one of the most visited destinations in the world.
It is important to inform us about what is happening and to support local businesses as much as we can. At present, we are the engine of this industry and it is up to us that the country's tourism does not stagnate, taking into account the unforgettable experiences that we take when traveling within Peru.