10 OCT 2012: House lights dimmed. Popcorn buttered. And so the show began. A magical mystery tour unfolded at the Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto’s trendy Entertainment district recently and it wasn’t captured on 3D film or any other fancy tech invention.


The occasion: PromPerú and its agent of record VoX International Inc. showcased Peru in all its splendour via a newly released Internet trailer dubbed, “Peru: Empire of Hidden Treasures.”

This was followed by a riveting slide show presentation by acclaimed photographer Peter Langer whose award-winning images of disappearing civilizations and breathtaking scenery have appeared on the pages of Conde Nast Traveler, Vanity Fair and National Geographic.

Juan Forteza, account manager, described the event as a ‘first-of-its kind’ devoted to reaching consumers. “For a whole year we have been promoting to the trade and to the media so things are picking up. We also put this event together. It’s the first time we are trying to reach the consumer.”

So with necks craned we watched the cinematic commercial and a slide show to end all-slide-shows on the BIG screen. The alluring country had many travel agents and tour operators filled with awe. After Peter’s entertaining and informative presentation, many said that the Peruvian places depicted were new discoveries to even them. One tour operator rep I overheard declared how Peter’s insightful lively commentary had provided a new perspective to one of South America’s hottest destinations.

Here’s why:

The numbers
54,000 Canadians visited Peru in 2010 (2011arrival numbers still in the works).

Packages

Peru’s been on the tip of many agents’ tongues and that’s thanks to major Canadian tour operators that now have programs. Juan estimates approximately 33 travel companies have Peru packages.

YouTube
Watch this new YouTube video campaign and see for yourself: http://hiddentreasures.peru.travel/ “We wanted to show Canadians it’s not only Machu Picchu. We have amazing geography and Peru has something for everyone,” said Karina Oliva, marketing specialist with PromPerú.

Sights and Discoveries

The 100th anniversary of Machu Picchu has helped but there’s more to the country which boasts 11 designated UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Peru is a destination in transition. “What you learned in your school books ten years ago no longer applies,” explained Peter who observed the plethora of ongoing new discoveries that continues.

“You dig a hole and you find something,” remarked Karina. “They are still excavating and finding new things.”

Superlatives
Peru has the longest river in the world, the highest navigable lake in the world, and the deepest canyon in the world among many other notables.

Safety
It’s a safe destination. “Peru is doing well with the economy and its democracy,” says Juan and challenges me to name a country you can visit where you can exchange money on the street. Hmmm... “Well, in Peru. It is so safe you can go to Lima and there are some guys wearing a white shirt with cambio meaning change on the shirts and you can change money on the street.” That’s just one safe destination example.

Tour Operators
Transat Discoveries Sherry Brown described the tour operator’s top selling package known as the ‘Mysteries of Peru’ package. This is an escorted inclusive with land, airfare and 3-star accommodations plus most sightseeing included.

“It was one of our top selling itineraries we sold last year and Peru just keeps getting more popular year after year,” she says.

Gateway International Tours Fernando Urgiles was a fabulous source, passionate about his products. “We’ve been in the market for 26 years... and we customize and tailor make tours,” he started. One of the best intros is the 12 day Signature Peru itinerary.

“We cover Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, famous for the Santa Catalina Monastery and observe the flight of the Condor at Colca Canyon and the Nazca Lines. It’s for first timers and is a complete programme.”

Okay, so what makes his Machu Picchu trip unique?

“You have a private porter for your belongings so it’s very comfortable and is good for all types of fitness levels.” Fernando says Machu Picchu is best done with a group and that’s simply due to the group connection.

G Adventures Aaron Sapra, national sales manager, smiled from ear to ear when introducing the person he believes helps set his company’s Inca Trail tours apart from the competition.

Meet Julio Risco aka CEO. “The ‘chief experience officer’ is quite frankly the most important person in our company,” he says and explains G Adventures currently has 400 employees in Peru and hires only local guides like Julio. “That’s more than anywhere else in the world,” Aaron says and notes G Adventures are the world’s largest tour operator in Peru.

“To put things in perspective 30,000 permits are issued every year for the Inca Trail and G Adventures gets 11,000 of them.”

Inca Tips:
Aaron from G Adventures strongly recommends bookings Inca Trail ASAP. The trail is government regulated allowing 500 people per day, which includes porters. “Permits sell out months in advance. If you want to travel on the Inca trail you have to book a minimum of 90 days in advance and we’ll take care of permit bookings,” he says.

Guide Julio who has hiked the Inca Trail 90 times loves observing the landscape along the famous trail. “It’s also a national refuge so you see hummingbirds, armadillos, all kinds of animals.”

Fernando from Gateways International says the biggest mistake people make is they rush to do too many things and avoid acclimatizing. “Take it easy the first day. Have a glass of wine, try the gastronomy, relax, it’s a beautiful city. When you fly into Cusco book your flight for a morning arrival, although you’ll find cheaper options in the afternoon, you will enjoy the experience of getting into Cusco for the morning,” he says describing the 1.5 hour flight from Lima to Cusco.

So if you go, drink the local tea to help you manage the altitude sickness, that may or may not strike, settle in, and take your camera for panoramic views of a lifetime.

Now get ready to explore the mysteries of Peru.


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author

Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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