G ADVENTURES: DAILY ASSESSMENTS
When the unrest started, G Adventures cancelled all trips starting in Peru up to, and including, Feb. 28. Road blockages and closures made it impossible to run many trips as planned.
G Adventures’ VP of Operations, Ben Weiher, tells Travelweek that the company is checking the situation daily. Says Weiher: “Currently our trips in Peru are all cancelled through the end of February. We make daily assessments on the viability of running our trips in Peru, looking at our primary overland routes, airports, and the train to and from Machu Picchu, among other things, including the strikes and protests that are occurring or planned and assessing if they are violent or peaceful in nature.
He adds: “Our hearts go out to the people of Peru who have suffered due to the lack of tourism dollars these past few months. We are committed to our vision of spreading wealth through tourism in Peru, however our main objective needs to remain the health and safety of our travellers and staff during these uncertain times.”
Sacred Valley, Peru | Ccaccaccollo Women’s Weaving Co-op with G Adventures
INTREPID TRAVEL: PERU PROGRAM RESTARTS MARCH 1
Travelweek also got the latest from Intrepid Travel, another company that traditionally has a high volume of Peru bookings.
Starting in mid-December 2022 Intrepid’s Peru program was hit with trip interruptions and cancellations because of the country’s civil unrest. Late last month Intrepid announced it would cancel all trips in Peru from Feb. 6 – 28. In total Intrepid had to cancel 140 departures due to the civil unrest and protests.
In the wake of Machu Picchu’s reopening, Intrepid got some great news yesterday: the tour op will restart trips in Peru on March 1, 2023, with some 25 trips scheduled to depart through the month.
The March 1 restart coincides with the reopening of the Inca Trail, which closes for routine maintenance every February. Machu Picchu’s reopening includes limited train service until demand increases.
The significance of Machu Picchu’s reopening cannot be overstated, said Fernando Rodriguez, Intrepid’s GM Peru. Intrepid Travel has offices in Lima and Cusco, with a team of 350+ people which includes office staff, leaders, and porters.
Rodriguez told Travelweek about the current situation in his country: “The impact on the tourism industry has been devastating, especially after the extremely difficult years endured during the pandemic. The tourism industry losses are expected to exceed US$400 million, according to the latest government data, with Lima, Cusco, Puno, and Arequipa among the most impacted regions.”
Tourism plays such a vital role for Peru’s economy and impacts so many people’s lives, he added. “The significance of this reopening cannot be overstated. We simply cannot wait to welcome the world with open arms.”
Rodriguez says Intrepid’s immersive travel style helps locals in untold number of ways, from Intrepid’s drivers and porters to leaders and hosts. “There are incredible communities all over the country whose livelihoods depend on tourism, and we will do everything we can to get international tourists back and experiencing the magic of Peru. Communities, porters and leaders are so excited – everyone was celebrating when the trains started running. We will do our best for travellers coming to Peru and they will be welcomed with open arms.”
The last remaining obstacle for Intrepid’s Peru itineraries is Puno (Lake Titicaca) as the airport is closed and roads remain blocked. However, Intrepid notes that the airport is due to reopen on Feb. 28 “and we are hopeful that roads will be open by then.”
Peru is a key destination for Intrepid, one of the company’s top sellers globally. In 2019 Intrepid brought more than 11,000 travellers to Peru.
Experiencing Peru with Intrepid (photo credit Christian Declercq)
GOVERNMENT TRAVEL ADVISORY
We asked Intrepid if its Peru tours will operate starting March 1 regardless of the Canadian government’s advisory against travel to Cusco.
Intrepid spokesperson Nicole Powell says Intrepid recommends that all travellers consult with their local governments and make the decision to travel based on their own comfort levels.
“Our tours will operate regardless from March 1 onwards, unless the situation changes,” Powell told Travelweek.
The current statement for Peru travel on Intrepid’s Travel Alerts page is: “After a period of civil unrest following the change of government in December 2022, which resulted in the suspension of our tours to Peru until 28 February 2023, the situation within Peru is now beginning to improve. The majority of road blocks have now been lifted, most domestic flights have resumed and key tourist sites such as Machu Picchu have reopened. Juliaca Airport near Puno is scheduled to reopen on 28 February.
“All Intrepid tours to Peru will resume from 1 March 2023. We are continuing to monitor the situation on the ground and are confident that we will be able to provide our travellers with a safe and enjoyable experience in Peru.”