The last few months have turned our world and our accustomed everyday life completely upside down. The tourism industry has been severely affected by the global corona pandemic and has to struggle with closed country borders and travel warnings. Our partners in Latin America, the certified and awarded companies and destinations also have to get along with this extraordinary situation. Tourism in Latin America came to and still is at a standstill for the most part. Only very slowly, the industry begins to recover and first hotels open their doors again.
Innovative and creative through the crisis
In the last months, many tour operators and travel agencies in our partner countries in Latin America have been faced with an existential crisis. There are no social benefits from the government in Latin America. With hope and a positive attitude many destinations, tour operators, travel agencies and other companies have used the time to be innovative and creative and act agilely in order keep their heads above water with new offers. But what can tourism companies do?
Authentic travel experiences in small communities
The travel restrictions and warnings encourage many travellers to get to know their own country or region. Travel agencies and tour operators in Latin America’s travel regions can take advantage of these circumstances and temporarily replace or expand their existing product portfolio with new destinations and adapted products, thereby targeting local travellers.
The revision of the product portfolio offers the opportunity to support and include smaller communities that otherwise do not or only marginally benefit from tourism. This integration has advantages not only for the local communities but also for the local travellers. They experience an authentic vacation with traditional music, food, art and customs, often in very remote and natural regions. Especially now, this is a good offer and a great opportunity to get to know new landscapes and cultures in your own country.
An example from Peru
A local tour operator from Peru, who already actively implements our previous suggestions is for example Pukupuku Travel from Cusco. The TourCert-certified tour operator has quickly adapted new offers to its program. The team has used the lockdown to further educate itself on barrier-free tourism in order to be able to offer barrier-free, guided tours in the future. Some of the team members even learned sign language to be able to convey the stories of Peru to non-hearing and hard of hearing travellers.
In addition, Pukupuku Travel hired locals as tour guides, who had often lost their jobs due to closures or bankruptcies, but do have a lot of knowledge about local traditions and stories for tours in rural areas. This way, the guides were able to generate an income that is vital for the family to survive the crisis.
Pukupuku Travel also used this time to clean the otherwise overcrowded places, such as Machu Picchu and its hiking trails, of garbage, thus reducing the negative effects of tourism.
You can learn more about the travel agency Pukupuku Travel in the following video (in Spanish):
Craftwork shops are seeking new paths
However, even companies that do not offer a purely tourist product, but still depend on travellers as a target group, have had to become creative in the last few months. In Costa Rica, for example, this circumstance affected craftwork shops that normally sell directly or through small stores at the airport to international travellers. Due to the standstill of tourism, the airports were closed and so were the small stores. The entry of tourists was and still is prohibited, which also brought the daily business of the so-called Artesanías to a standstill. Solutions had to be found quickly to prevent the complete closure of these craftwork shops. In this predicament, some entrepreneurs came up with the innovative idea of producing protection masks, which were in great demand and urgently needed. No “conventional” surgical masks were designed, but the mask design took into account the respective style of the craftwork shop This resulted in beautifully painted, independently produced masks, with typical Costa Rican design.
The Artesanías Chaverri, who is a partner company of the TourCert certified destination Sarchí in Costa Rica, is an example of a participating craftwork shop. The artists have tried different designs and always painted or glued typical Costa Rican patterns on the masks. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they have sold about 50.000 masks. The demand is huge as masks are important for containing the virus and for the personal sense of security.
Currently, the Artesanías Chaverri produce about 500 masks daily. Everything is made by hand, which results into a lot of work. But through this work, the owners have been able to keep their craftwork shop open and thus secure the jobs of their employees. The masks were distributed through social media, which led to inquiries from all over the country. Since the government’s exit restrictions made it difficult to pick up the masks in person, they were delivered by mail directly to the doorstep of the customers.
We are pleased about the innovative and creative approaches and wish our partners all the best, continuing success, endurance and strength.
Following this link, you can admire the latest design of the “Mascarillas”: to the video