Hotel San Sebastian and 13 Búhos gain spots in newest edition of Rough Guides

Although most travellers nowadays carry tablets, smart phones and even laptops to gather their tourist information while exploring a foreign country, others choose to buy one of the many travel guide books available on the market. Travel guide books provide a backpacker with all of the travel information you need in a single book and thus one is not reliant on batteries or internet access, for example. Though the rise of the internet including travel company websites, blogs, forums and social networking has profoundly declined the printing market, there´s still many travellers who seem to trust and prefer the information in travel guide books because it has been personally verified by a travel professional. The Huaraz Telegraph spoke briefly with the person responsible for the Ancash section of the Rough Guides, Todd Obolsky (photo) who spend five days in the Ancash area to collect his research data and he was so kind to reveal us some insight information regarding the selection process and a couple of businesses that have obtained a spot in the newest edition of the book.  According to a statement on their website, Rough Guides is a leading travel publisher known for its “tell it like it is” attitude, accurate, up-to-date content and authoritative contemporary writing.

Could you explain how the selection process works and how does one obtain a spot in the book? 

There’s no real formal ‘selection process’. I am charged with updating certain sections of the book, so after seeing whether there have been any significant changes to the town or the main tourist sites (entry fee or hours, yes, but also perhaps something like a major renovation), I review the accommodations, restaurants and nightlife places in the current edition to make sure they’re still there; we try to include listings in all price ranges. I revise the details for those that are still open, and pick a few new ones to replace those in each town that will be dropped out (if they have closed since the last publish, or declined in quality or reputation) or if I feel the location is not adequately covered. These I choose by talking to town visitor’s center staff, or locals, or just by wandering around.  I’ve found a lot of great places just by stopping and looking up!  Companies do write to RG to ask how they could be included in the guide; these letters are forwarded to the contributors covering those cities, and the contributors then can check them out when on site.

Why is it important not to reveal your identity to the establishments you are visiting? 

I would say that in 99% of cases I don’t reveal why I’m there. Sometimes I would reveal it, if I wanted to get specific information — speak directly to a notable chef or hotel director, for example.

After doing your research, and reading previous editions of RG, would you conclude that Huaraz is improving or not? 

I really couldn’t say, as it’s my first time here in person, and there’s only so much you can pick up regarding the feel of a place from previous printed guides — you’ve gotta get out there and experience it for yourself.

Obviously, you cannot reveal to us who´s in or out, but could you share how many new places have gained a listing and maybe one business that has gained a spot in the new edition?

I covered the Huaraz/Ancash region for this edition (as well as another chapter on Lima and surroundings). I’d say there are about 15-20 new listings; among them were San Sebastian Hotel and 13 Buhos in Huaraz, and Pony’s Lodge in Caraz.

Have they ever tried to bribe you, businesses in the area of somewhere else?

No, not really — in a lot of cases they’re not familiar with Rough Guides, so it may not hold that much value for being included.

Do you have the best job in the world? 

Ahh, it’s not all that glamorous!  It is my second job, more of a hobby really (I’m a full-time IT consultant). At least the way I’m working it — I don’t write articles for magazines/newspapers/websites, and I pretty much have stuck with this one publisher — I can’t support myself on this activity alone.  However, I look at it as a means to gain a full perspective on all the world has to offer, and learn more about all sorts of people.

As an author, and with the rise of digital guidebooks and websites with reviews, how do you see the future of RG? 

That’s a good question! The company was just sold to a new publisher, so I don’t know what their plans are. But as for printed guidebooks in general, I still see the Travel section in my local bookstores shrinking. Companies are being more thoughtful about what is (financially) worth it to publish on paper versus what they can provide digitally to hold onto their customer base and expand further. As for me, as convenient as it is to have a universe of digital travel information at my fingers, I still enjoy dragging around a printed guide that I can stick in my bookcase when I return home to remind me of where I’ve been.

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