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In the third world countries like Peru tourism has been classified as the major country’s foreign earner and has been heavily relied on to change the poverty levels that bedevil these countries. 7 % of the Peruvian GDP is made up by the tourism industry and the industry is listed as the fastest growing in the country. The tourism sector alone employs about 10.8% of the total Peruvian labor force and stands at approximately 480,000 direct employments and about 340, 000 indirect employments especially in the hospitality and infrastructure sectors. (www.andeantravelweb.com)
There are various other benefits that tourism comes with like earning the country much needed foreign exchange especially in this harsh economic times, lifting of millions of people from poverty to the middle class. This has led to the springing up of other industries like hotels and restaurants plus the improvement of the country’s transport; all as a result of the direct effect of tourism.
However there are others who argue that with the influx of tourists into the country especially in the rural areas bring with them vices that were unheard-of before; for example prostitution has been on the increase and cases of child prostitution are have increase tremendously in the recent times.
Nature of Tourism in Peru
Peru has a variety of sites that appeal to a wide variety of tourists and this has worked to their advantage especially in the area of cultural tourism. Cultural tourism perhaps could be considered as the largest sector that supports the tourism industry in Peru. With hundreds of ruins of the pr-Columbian civilizations and some of them being more than a five hundred years old, this is a magnet for archeological enthusiasts the world over. The architectural designs in the Peruvian capital of Lima are direct evidence of the colonial past of the country (Peruvian Governmental Tourism Agency). Lima is also home to many acclaimed museums that reflect the diverse history of this country.
Another form of tourism in Peru is eco-tourism where the Amazon jungle comes to mind. Peru has 60% of its land mass in the Amazon and it has done a good job preserving it. It is a fact that the Peruvian Amazon jungle “is perhaps one of the world’s best unspoiled, virgin and untouched rain forests on earth”. The diversity of animal and plant life is unrivalled by any other rain forest on earth.
Adventure tourism is also developing in the country where the rugged landscape and geographical diversity makes it possible to go surfing, mountain climbing and rafting.
Beach tourism is probably the next stop for a tourist after exploring the country’s ruins and architecture. With a 2414km long coastline, there are so many beaches that are attractive to any type of traveler.
Effects of Tourism
The obvious effect is the creation of jobs and the flowing in of foreign exchange. However, argue that tourism brings with it prostitution and drug problems to the urban areas and rural areas. There is also the problem of degradation of its beaches due to the vast human traffic passing through them.
On the flip side, the tourism industry has encouraged the government to preserve the various ruins like the Machu Piccu and its huge rainforests because their direct contribution to the economy is rather obvious. Let us not forget how a good tourism sector always portrays a country in good light and nothing beats free publicity.
“Mainstream tourism has long been criticized for excluding local, indigenous people. While community-based tourism helps those marginalized by the mainstream tourism industry, it tends to benefit the more privileged “(Carnaffan) which is true to some extent. If the rural communities are empowered and there is equitable distribution of resources, the rich -poor divide won’t be so big. All this can be minimized by passing the necessary legislation and giving more autonomy to the local authorities.
Carnaffan Jane, Community based Tourism: Getting down to the grass roots: Some Peruvian Experiences. 2009. Web.
Andean Travel Web 2000 – 2008: Peru: Adventure Travel Guide to South America: 2009. Web.