Peru is no stranger to world crises. From hyperinflation in the ’80s to terrorism in the ’90s to the financial crisis of the 2000s, Peruvians have faced many difficulties over the decades, and if there is one thing we have come to understand, it is that tough times don’t last forever.
With the arrival of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the world tourism industry is facing one of the biggest challenges in its history. There are already billions of dollars worth of losses to the airline industry due to countries across the globe having shut down their borders. This means that many travelers won´t be able to get to their destinations and that tour operators, hoteliers, guides, porters, field staff, and other specialized service providers whose livelihoods depend on the tourism industry won´t be able to produce income to support their families.
An estimated 8% of all jobs in Peru are tourism-related, and tourism represents 12% of the GDP according to the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism. The impact of this period of complete border shutdown could cost an estimated 300,000 direct jobs and another 500,000 indirect jobs in the tourism industry alone.
Peru has taken some of the most drastic measures in all of South America in its efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus Covid-19. We were among the first to declare a state of national emergency, shut international borders, and order a nationwide shelter-in-place decree, requiring everybody in Peru to stay at home except for essential trips to the supermarket or pharmacy. A curfew is in force from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am, which, if violated could mean jail time and a substantial fine. We believe these strict actions are necessary to fight the spread of the virus and protect the population, even though it means a big financial loss for our operations. Human health and safety always come first.
Many of the travel companies affected by this situation are taking steps to protect their staff, with which they have long-term relationships. The people that provide services to the industry, including office workers, guides, porters, cooks, etc. are suffering due to the tremendous wave of cancellations Peru’s travel industry is currently undergoing. Peru’s government is talking about providing some relief to suffering families, but meanwhile, there are ways in which travelers can help. We know that everybody has been affected by this challenging situation. We ask that, if at all possible, travelers who are reading this blog consider the following:
Please refrain from canceling your travel plans in haste.
There is no doubt that clients’ safety and health are top priorities, and we in the industry are tracking the current situation closely. Let’s see how things evolve in the coming weeks. If you have had to postpone your trip, please rebook for later this year, or in 2021. Travel companies will very much appreciate your understanding and will be as flexible as possible with these re-bookings. If you must have a refund rather than reschedule your trip, please understand that many suppliers have been unable to change their cancellation policies, since some of the services are already paid for. A refund request could possibly result in penalties that would need to be considered against any refund a company may provide. If you are able to rebook your trip, most companies will be very flexible in providing credits toward future travel in 2020 or 2021.
Please understand we are all in this together.
Travel companies want nothing more than to provide great solutions and options for clients’ future travel while prioritizing health and safety. It may take a bit of time for your provider to respond to your inquiries, as they are communicating with their suppliers, trying to rebook trips, or determining refunds vs. penalty amounts on a case-by-case basis. Many suppliers are still determining what they are able to do in the face of the current crisis.
We in Peru’s travel industry want you to know that we are putting enormous effort into addressing this situation and that we appreciate your understanding during these challenging times. As always, it is our goal to provide the best options for your Peru trip. We thank you for being such good clients and we really hope that those of you whose trips have been compromised can keep a positive outlook, knowing that this situation will come to an end soon. By making the simple decision to reschedule rather than cancel your trip, you can help save many jobs in the travel industry, and help prevent small-to-midsize companies from going bankrupt. Whether you have booked services with Explorandes, another operator, or on your own, please join with us in a united effort to help the industry bounce back after the crisis, just as it has so many times before.
Let’s help each other through this.