Foreword editor THT August edition

Had you heard of Huaraz, or did you get here by coincidence?

As faithful readers might know, the August edition is the second to last edition of this year. Though the high season has not come to end yet and it might be premature to rash forward to conclusions, Huaraz is getting fewer visitors every year. Though figures can be manipulated and are often just made up in Peru, Alejandro Solis Neyra (The Dean of the College of Graduates in Tourism in Ancash) listened worriedly to Peru´s President Ollanta Humala´s Speech for the Nation on the 28th of July.

Ollanta said that on a yearly basis, 2,800,000 foreigners visit Peru and thus are an important source of income for many. On an internal level, 35,000,000 Peruvians travel during public holidays like Semana Santa (Easter), Fiestas Patrias (Independence Day) or special occasions to see family such as during Christmas. According to statistics (source not mentioned by Solis), 42,137 tourists visit Áncash. Readers should know that Chimbote, Huarmey and Casma are also part of Áncash so these figures are not only referring to Huaraz. Sadly, this means that only 1.5% of the foreign tourists visit Áncash. A shocking two out of every 100 tourists visit the Highest Cordillera of Peru. In terms of national tourism, 162,020 Peruvians visited the region of Áncash, which represent only 0.45%. Less than half a percent!

All of these figures are shocking for most involved in tourism but not for your editor. In almost seven years living in Huaraz, I still have to come across the first advertisement on national television to promote Huaraz. Of course, we could blame DIRCETUR (Regional Direction of Foreign Trade and Tourism) but I guess they are too busy with other things like visiting useless parades, vegetable fairs and so on. After all, the touts at the Cruz del Sur bus station are still there. Tourists are still being attacked when they come off their bus and are overloaded with flyers of agencies that are worried that tourist go to their rivals. For the record, Cruz del Sur is not the only bus station where the captadores are active, I have seen them also at Linea, Oltursa, Z-Buss and Movil Tours. If I only had my own bus company… Like most intelligent business entrepreneurs do, let´s just blame the Huaraz Telegraph, that´s easy because we always focus on the negative side of life!

Initiative should of course not come from DIRCETUR but from local businesses. Instead of fighting, blackmailing or denigrate each other, they should work together. Unfortunately, this is exactly one of the many shortcomings of the Huaracinos. And this might explain why people prefer to go to Cusco, Arequipa, Puno, Iquitos or even Tacna and let´s be honest, the reputation of a three-star sewage-treatment facility is even better.

As far as the Huaraz Telegraph is concerned, we hope that despite the fact that infrastructure, roads, hostels and especially agencies are mostly far below par, you should still be able to enjoy all the beauty the surroundings Huaraz has to offer. For those who are wondering how I ended up in Huaraz? I had eight days left over on a world trip in 2005 while being in Bolivia and some guide book with a blue cover mentioned it. The rest is history.

Rex Broekman

Founder and editor of the Huaraz Telegraph

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