In Bolivia, one million people live from tourism

Ernesto Estremadoiro reports for El Dia:

It is the fourth most important activity in the country

One million people live from tourism

The activity generates 200,000 direct jobs and indirect impact reaches this digit. Mining only generates 132,000 jobs in the country.

2014-06-27 08.04.01 amTourism, called smokeless industry, has well earned this “nickname”. According to Martin Careaga, president of FIT, this activity generates 200,000 direct jobs nationwide, including all industry players, such as tour operators, gastronomy, among others.

However, more than a million people are the ones who benefit indirectly from this activity. “All that indirect employment would put us in first place and what is generating jobs and wealth” qualifies Careaga.

According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, this “industry” moves annually over $1,200 million dollars. Being behind the oil, mining and non-traditional exports.

Sectors. While the first two are the most important in relation to capital investment required, produce far fewer jobs.

For the Center for Labor and Agrarian Development (CEDLA), mining annually generates about 132,000 jobs sources.

“In mining the mining cooperatives generate more jobs than oil, but also without labor rights, no social security,” said Bruno Rojas, CEDLA researcher.

Furthermore, it is estimated that the hydrocarbon sector generates about 63,000 jobs.

According to Rojas, only 20% of the people that are employed in this sector are in a formal payroll and enjoy social benefits.

“80% is referred to it by the oil subcontractors, and workers are in bad conditions,” he said.

Stability. A study quantifying Tourism Jobs in Bolivia, conducted by the deputy minister of the Department, 8 out of 10 employees of some of the items related to this sector has a permanent job.

The same study found that hosting people, accounts for 38% the field.

Second is transport, followed by restaurants, tourism operators and travel agencies.

In the latter category, 160 companies generate about 7,000 direct jobs, says Lourdes Omoya, president of the Bolivian Association of Travel and Tourism – Bolivia (ABAVYT).

“Tourism is a generator of jobs and strengthens the economy because it generates foreign exchange from the confectionery which is on the corner, to the carrier who takes tourists. Generates a more sustainable economy, an activity that is more important in some countries”, he said.

Need more promotion. According to official data, more than 1,200,000 foreign tourists visited Bolivia in 2013. This represents a 17% increase from 2012, above the average regional growth rate reaches 8%.

The Culture Ministry estimates that the number of visits in 2014 will be higher due to the different events held (like Dakar or the G-77 + China) and to be performed this year indicates the head of state. [I strongly disagree with this government: Bolivia needs tourist flow on an ongoing basis, not because of political boondoggles or races that are so short in time… Bolivia needs to shift from backpackers’ tourism to more wealthy tourist, people who come over to this country directly and not as reflows from Cuzco; we need people who come and spend money, so we need to upgrade the services and make sure those tourist come back and/or send their friends/family again and again.]

However, according to Careaga, the industry needs more promotion to increase visitors.

“Tourism needs promotion.” The ‘Bolivia Awaits’ is a leading brand, is shocking because shows the Salar de Uyuni, Lake Titicaca. But we need more,” said the expert.

Foreign tourist leaves $70 dollars per day

Benefit. It is estimated that a foreign tourist spends up to $70 a day in the country. [which is far, far less than what some tourists spend in Cairo, Paris, Cancun… we need to aim higher, and forget about the backpacker who comes and asks for bargains and buys little if any souvenirs, as they do not have the space to carry them back home, nor that wallet to afford it.]

34% of these resources are used in transportation, and the rest in various services like food, handicraft shopping. In addition, the national tourist spends between $15 and $20 dollars, says the president of the International Tourism Fair, Martin Careaga.

[The State] Company will not hurt. According to private operators of tourism in the country, the recent announcement of the creation of a state operator, would leave many travel agencies out of work. [goverment should provide policies and not engage in this “company”, this “socialist/populist” political party has veiled in over than eight years of having total control of the government, executive, legislative and judicial branches, has not been successful with state-owned companies. So, they should only limit to provide sound tourism policies, safety for the tourist and prevent blockades, riots so that our guests come and go as planned. That is all a government needs to do.]

“Will give no benefit, will be devoted to removing the sale of tickets to travel agencies, and they will have to close their doors. It is not coming to meet any need,” Careaga said.

For his part, Minister of Tourism, Pablo Groux, Bolivian noted that the Company will not affect tourism revenues tour operators who already have an established traditional market. [..the role of a true government is to help, support, provide the safety mets for the private industry to deliver, not to compete, providing much of the usual services, already provided, and those services are subsidized with taxpayers money, and that does not make any sense at all.]

He said will open new destinations in nontraditional places with great potential.

“Bolivia has entered the tourism sector in a very interesting result that for a long time nothing was done before for this industry”

Pablo Groux
Minister of Culture and Tourism

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