Bolivian government’s intention to boost the tourism industry

Los Tiempos reports about what appeared in principle a good positive intention from current government. However, after reading the whole article, you can decide…

Bolivia will invest at least $ 1 million a year to become as an international tourist destination and will create, for that purpose, the national strategic tourism services company, reported the official sources this Sunday.

The Minister of economy and finance, Luis Arce, explained that the expanded Cabinet meeting, that took place on Friday and Saturday in the town of Coroico, established to boost tourism with more emphasis.

“We have defined a position, to launch a tourism offer for the next five consecutive years.” “The task is the positioning of Bolivia as a visiting point at the international level, so we are going to invest a million dollars a year as a State”, said in an interview with State-owned media.

Arce explained that the promotion campaign will be financed with resources from the Inter-American Bank (IDB), in order to boost the so-called industry without chimneys.

He also pointed out that the policies of tourism will start with immediate short-term projects, which will be implemented through the new strengthened national strategic services of tourism, which will depend on the Ministry of cultures.

President Evo Morales anticipated last Saturday in consultation with Brazil and the companies that handle the famous Carnival in Rio, the possibility of Bolivian [folk] groups participating in the Carnival of Oruro (diablada or morenada), to perform in the Rio Carnival.

On the other hand the Brazilian samba schools may participate in the Carnival of Oruro.

“Imagine from beyond our Carnival would be in the world and also here would be a great attraction on the Rio de Janeiro samba schools”, considered the head of State that day.

Interesting initiative, however it has many flaws. The first one is that the “blockade culture” among most of the social sectors tend to do for days and even weeks throughout any year. Despite whatever amount this government may “invest”, it will mean nothing if we cannot stop all those blockades, riots, and strikes. No tourist in his right mind would come to Bolivia if he has no certainty about going back home on time.

The second main problem with boosting tourism is not to prepare video spots or adds in major channels or magazines, the problem is the quality of the service we can provide. If Bolivia offers a five or three star accommodations, well those have to be there at reasonable prices and impeccable service.

Thirdly, public safety and drug trafficking in our streets and roads have no appeal at all for the type of tourists we should be aiming at. Currently, we receive the overflows of the tourists that go to Peru first. We need to keep the types of tourists we currently get, and have yearly growths. But, we have to move to the tourists at the higher level, those who may come in small groups and spend thousand of dollars for a very high-service, top quality tourism. Currently most of our tourists come but do not spend as much as we would want them to do.

What many potential tourists may speak about Bolivia, is reflected in this cartoon from El Diario, March 11, 2012. Two people from the middle east speak in Spanish/Arab style: “…that country, the ‘Bolivia’, must be very rich, lots of money, richer than the ‘Arab Emirates’…” and the other replies “I believe so…! all the time dancing, blockading their roads and they even chew their coca…!”

Finally, the remarks that current president made regarding to Rio’s carnival shows too much naiveté from his part. I would only say if the government intends to support the tourism industry in Bolivia, tax brackets for those travel agencies, hotels, restaurants, souvenirs’ shops, craftsmen and public safety, local transportation free of blockades and riots are far more important; the old idea to have state-owned enterprises or more bureaucracy will simply not work.


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