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 Versión Español | October 2015


Ministers and Authorities Stress Benefits of Community-Based Rural Tourism

Tourism Congress

Peru, a country known for its rich cultural heritage and offer of authentic tourism experiences, was the ideal backdrop for this month’s high-level meeting of Tourism Ministers and Authorities, focused on the theme “Community-based Rural Tourism: Agenda for more competitive and sustainable development”. The XXIII Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities of Tourism , concluded in Lima with authorities’ recognition of this emerging approach to tourism as a mechanism to combat extreme poverty and promote economic growth with social inclusion in the Americas.

Minister of Trade and Tourism of Peru at MINCETUR, Magali Silva, noted that the Andean country had developed community-based rural tourism as a public policy since 2007, with important achievements and many lessons learned to share with its hemispheric counterparts.  Hence the relevance of the focus given to the promotion of community-based rural tourism, not only at the high-level meeting held on September 3 and 4, but also as the central theme of the work of Member States over the next two years, during which Peru will Chair the OAS Inter-American Commission of Tourism (CITUR).

Emphasizing the relevance of the Ministerial’s theme for the entire region, Executive Secretary for Integral Development, Amb. Neil Parsan, highlighted in his opening remarks that “the Government of Peru has made an enormous contribution to the peoples of the Americas by placing the issue of community-based rural tourism on theagenda for sustainable tourism in the region.” He further noted that the dialogue and exchange of experiences among member states are essential “to drive the development of policies that support emerging components and the diversification of the tourism product in our countries.”

Travel and Tourism is an important sector in the Americas, with a total contribution of 8.4% of the gross domestic product and 9.6 % of total employment, as reported by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in 2014. Moreover, and beyond its macroeconomic impact, experience shows that community-based rural tourism promotes the social inclusion of populations that inhabit remote areas, many of which have tourism potential based on their rich cultural and natural heritage.

One such successful example was presented by Cristina Suaña, a Peruvian entrepreneur who over 10 years ago seized an opportunity to host a couple of foreign tourists in her native island on Lake Titicaca. “From there, I decided to continue with this project. Today, I am very well known in my community and in other countries. I managed to expand my business through my perseverance and thanks to the training provided to me by MINCETUR" said the community leader, owner of Uros Khantati to a local news outlet. Many other successful experiences, programs, and policies were shared at the high-level meeting that gathered over 200 participants representing governments of the Americas, international organizations, the private sector and academia.

The Declaration of Lima adopted at the meeting, outlines the reflections and guidelines to move forward in promoting community-based rural tourism in the Americas through hemispheric cooperation and sustained multilateral efforts. Most importantly, through the Declaration, Authorities approved the “Medium Term Strategy to Enhance Tourism Cooperation and Competitiveness in the Americas,” following-up on the mandate given at last year’s Ministerial meeting in Bridgetown, Barbados. This 5-year strategy provides a vision of the work of the OAS’ CITUR, as well as a framework for its organization, execution and monitoring of activities, programs and projects.

The Declaration also establishes that the OAS’ Hemispheric Tourism Fund (HTF) shall finance, among others, “initiatives that support community-based rural tourism, in order to promote tourism development in communities in extreme poverty that have tourism potential in their vicinity but lack full access to development,” while encouraging countries to continue to support the fund through voluntary contributions. 

Both the medium-term strategy and the inclusion of the Declaration’s theme in the Fund’s programming are “clear examples of how the ideas of our tourism authorities can be translated into concrete actions,” as stated by Executive Secretary for integral Development, Dr. Parsan in his closing remarks. This is a key result of the meeting, considering that, as Dr.Parsan recognized, “one of the principal challenges of these sectoral ministerial meetings is how to translate the aspirational statements of our authorities contained in the concluding documents into concrete actions”.

The Organization will continue to work closely with countries in advancing this strategic approach to tourism through CITUR and SEDI. In 2017, authorities will meet once again and gauge the level of progress at the next Inter-American Congresses of Ministers and High-Level Authorities of Tourism to be held in Guyana.

XXIII Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities of Tourism from OAS Development on Vimeo.


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