An interesting analysis appeared in Pagina Siete, August 7, 2011, by Gonzalo Chavez, an interesting article about how can we and should, increase our Tourism Industry.
In 2010, around 600 thousand tourists came to Bolivia and expended around 350 million dollars. Peru on the other hand received two million visitors and “left” two billion dollars. Chile and Costa Rica reported similar figures. Brazil received over five million tourists and six billion dollars.
Chavez proposal is to start looking after Brazil’s two main events in the coming years: World Soccer (Football) tournament in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. It is expected that visitors to Brazil will increase from 600 thousand to a million per year.
In the next five years, there is an estimated 28 million tourists that could be four-hour-flight away to La Paz or two and a half-hour-flight away from Santa Cruz. If the road Santa Cruz-Corumba is finished, it would be a 15 hour drive. Some of the visitors would come from Asia and would fly over our country, so we could hope they would stop on their way in or out of Brazil.
So, Chavez says, there is an incredible opportunity to double our current tourist flow. If Bolivia could double it, around a billion dollars could also generate quality jobs. (I think, we have culture, history and wildlife to offer; Bolivia is a megadiverse country and certainly attractive for any tourist to enjoy. We just need to upgrade our services).
What is needed, Chavez continues, a government that coordinates this effort with the private sector (tourist operators, restaurants, hotels, universities and other training facilities related with tourism), municipal, community and other stakeholders and actors to aim at doubling our tourism sector.
Chavez proposes creating an agreement with Brazil, in order to facilitate El Alto and Viru Viru airports as hubs to release pressure from Brazilian airports. A “BolBraz pass” with tourism packages (hotel and plane tickets) could include Brazil and Bolivia cities that could be sold together with tickets for the soccer tournament and the olympics.
Public financing should go to improve, upgrade the transport infrastructure (roads and airports) related with tourism.
A good idea (Bolivia needs more proactive thinkers like Chavez) that needs to be discussed before time and opportunity flies above us. Bolivia needs to address all social unrest issues properly and expeditiously to project a calm and amicable site for all tourists. Bolivia needs to show the world we are truly fighting the cocaine production and trafficking. Bolivia needs to fight crime and violence, we need to tell our visitors, come and enjoy, we will protect you and give you the best possible experience, so you can return!
These two international events have coincided right across the border, we should take advantage of them!!