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TRAVEL UPDATE: We're open! Where can I go? and answers to your questions about COVID-19
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Karol Hermoza

The rural communities in Cusco continue to improve their tourism infrastructure as they wait for tourism to recover after months of struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cusco attracts millions of tourists every year because of Machu Picchu. Also, visitors go to different sites like Cusco city or the Sacred Valley, where there is plenty of cultural heritage from the Incas. However, due to the current Covid-19 situation, all the people involved in tourism activities has seen how their income has diminished without a hope it will recover soon. For the rural communities where we work, this situation has been extremely hard because tourism was a form of getting cash flow to improve their livelihoods. Although tourism is not their main economic activity, it had become an extra activity that had brought development to their communities. Agriculture is still the main source of income. However, certain factors, like the season, climate, and prices affect the constant cash influx for rural families. It’s challenging to navigate the agricultural fields when prices are so low, and families feel desperate to find income for a better life.

We were glad to see that the Valle Chosica community is still looking up to tourism as a future activity that will recover from the pandemic. In 2019, GVI volunteers helped bring to life a wetland in Valle Chosica that was polluted and didn’t show any potential as a tourism site. After seven weeks of work, volunteers cleaned the wetland and placed a new fence to bring better water management within the community. In 2020, we monitored the site, and we could see that bird nests were growing, no more algae were on sight, and the community had taken upon them to create a natural fence with native plants. We should add that we also helped the community with a trail and viewpoint site that is now open for tourists to enjoy the incredible view of the Piuray lagoon.

In 2021, we received the news that the community started to build a shadow area near the wetland in order to improve the tourism facilities. Seeing men and women working tirelessly to set up this construction shows us that they are looking forward to a better future. They know that the struggles related to Covid-19 will pass sooner or later. Still, we are firm believers that tourism shouldn’t be a main economic activity as it’s very volatile. External factors, such as the pandemic, security issues, bad reviews, or others, can cause tourism to go down. Rural communities shouldn’t depend on that. On the other hand, public and private organizations should check the possibilities to support agricultural development. Farmers should receive better prices for their products, which means that they won’t need to look for other income sources like tourism. They can do it as an extra activity that would not disrupt their lifestyle.

Once traveling is allowed, we ask every traveler to take services in rural communities directly with community members. Also, you can book with travel agencies that support rural tourism associations fairly. Only you can be a better traveler for this new world after Covid-19.