LATA chairman Colin Stewart reveals some of the steps being taken to rekindle tourism in Latin America.
Latin America is around 60 days behind Europe with regards to the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic. The outlook is varied across the region with a number of different approaches ranging from compulsory lockdowns in some countries to softer guidelines in others. Likewise, the number of cases and associated deaths is strikingly varied.
Many countries across the continent have had very few Covid-19 cases and corresponding fatalities whilst a few countries – particularly those that are more populous – report more worrying figures.
There is no doubt that the region’s tourism sector has been hit hard by the economic fallout which has meant that travel to the region, for the most part, has ground to a halt. That said, at LATA, it is encouraging for us to see the hard work that is ongoing across the region to ensure a safe and sturdy tourism recovery.
Our destination partners are working hard to implement their own health and hygiene protocols. For example, Panama is a nation that has been praised for its fast response to Covid-19 and is now in a position where it can look forward to reopening to visitors in the near future.
Panama promptly shut its borders to stem the spread of the virus however is now reviving its tourism industry, beginning with domestic, and with the goal of inviting international tourists in the second half of 2020 and first half of 2021 through the development of hygiene and sanitation protocols for each tourism activity.
Uruguay was recently featured within the European Union’s list of “safe countries” due to its epidemiological situation related to the coronavirus and quick response to its first cases.
Many of our private sector members have received the WTTC’s Safe Travel Stamp for the measures they have taken to ensure visitor safety including Alchemy DMC and Napo Wildlife Centre.
We have also seen our members adapting to the new travel climate with Quimbaya Latin America launching a new product collection titled ‘Travel Differently’ designed for travellers looking for more nature, less flights and to be involved with local communities in a responsible way.
Amazonas Explorer has also developed a ‘Covid Friendly’ cultural tour to Peru whereby travellers are based entirely from their own exclusive villa, together with a private guide, chef, and driver. Guests avoid crowded sites by hiking along rarely explored Inca trails and virtually deserted ruins through outstanding Andean scenery.
At LATA we have created a Covid-19 hub to showcase the latest information from our tourism board members particularly in the context of travel and tourism. This is updated on a regular basis to provide the most up-to-date information regarding travel and tourism to each specific country.
One of the things we are most proud of is the overwhelming support we have seen on the ground as those who rely on tourism struggle with the stark reality that a lack of travel brings. Many of our members have undertaken their own charitable initiatives to support those who need it most.
Roque Sevilla of Metropolitan Touring and former Mayor of Quito founded the POR TODOS fund which has raised USD $11 million for indigenous communities. Journey Mexico has raised over USD $10,000 for vulnerable families in Mexico where travel and tourism accounts for more than 80% of jobs.
Our own LATA Foundation has set up a Covid-19 emergency appeal and is supporting a range of emergency appeals in Latin America with funds being directed to facilitating PPE for midwives serving in rural communities in Guatemala, providing essential meals for children from low-income families in Peru, financially assisting families in Quito, and supporting street children in Bolivia.
We will continue to vocalise all the good work our members are doing that often goes unnoticed and continue to showcase the true face of Latin America’s tourism industry.