Community tourism is heavily promoted
The Tourism Ministry invested US$15 million to develop community tourism projects starting in 2012. Bolivia’s natural and cultural diversity offers great potential for tourism, but the government seeks to stimulate growth in the industry and alleviate poverty through community-based projects based on partnerships between communities and private tour operators, with support from non-governmental organisations, and public finances. There are more than 80 community-based tourism projects in Bolivia, which can include a lodge near or in a protected area or an ecotourism product, and members of the community are included in these projects. The money was invested in managing capacities, infrastructure, communication centres, museums, and craft centres. US$5 million was invested in promoting tourism in the national and international media, including CNN, by showcasing Bolivia’s natural and cultural heritage.
Additional importance placed on travel and tourism
- An additional importance has been placed on travel and tourism towards the end of the review period as the government has realised the tremendous economic benefit it can bring to the country. In the past, the government was not heavily involved in developing tourism, but in 2012 it assumed a more active role with “Bolivia te espera” (Bolivia awaits you). In September 2012, the General Tourism Law was passed and involved the government in the promotion, development, and regulation of the travel and tourism industry with an investment of US$7 million. This law opened the doors to community tourism, and the government committed to investing in economic resources for infrastructure and basic services to enhance private industry and community initiatives. The law also promotes security and safety for tourists wishing to discover Bolivia’s attractions. The travel and tourism industry will now be able to obtain credit from private banking institutions and microfinance organisations. In the past, the financial industry did not grant credit to tourism service providers because of the guarantees that needed to be presented, but because travel and tourism is now considered a productive activity, the government will make sure the industry obtains the necessary credit. All travel and tourism businesses will pay an annual fee to an administrative regulation fund that will be managed by the Vice-Ministry of Tourism. The amount was not yet defined in 2012, but communities, private players, guides, agencies, and hotels will all need to pay this regulation fee.
Carnival of Oruro continues to bring in tourism
The Carnival of Oruro is famous worldwide and was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. The carnival is a religious festival that takes place in Oruro, Bolivia. Because of the festival’s success in 2012, the government spent BOB1 million to promote the Carnival of Oruro in 2013. In January 2013, the theme “Vívelo” was launched to publicise the carnival and promote tourism for the carnival.
AeroSur ceases trading
AeroSur, which used to be the leading airline in the country, was known to be in financial difficulty in 2011, and on 31 March 2012, the airline suspended operations due to unpaid taxes. While on 6 April, it resumed all flights except for its Madrid route. The company finally ceased operations on 17 May 2012. Other airlines, such as Boliviana de Aviación (BoA) which is state-owned, benefited from its exit, and filled the void left by AeroSur. BoA, which increased its services from January to June 2012 by at least 68%, added two new planes and began services to Spain. In December 2012, Air Europa also began flights from Bolivia to Spain. Both airlines compete on pricing. Former employees of AeroSur plan to create a new airline called TU Aerolínea. Other Bolivian airlines, including Aerocon, operate flights to Cobija, Cochabamba, La Paz, Riberalta, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Sucre, Tarija, Trinidad and Yacuiba. Línea Aérea Amaszonas is another Bolivian airline operating scheduled and chartered short, low-volume passenger flights throughout the northern and northeastern regions of the country. Línea Aérea Amaszonas invested US$4 million in five new airplanes and new routes in 2012. In October 2012, Amaszonas airlines began flying from Sucre, Bolivia’s capital, to Cusco. It already connects La Paz, Rurrenabaque, Uyuni, Santa Cruz, Sucre and Cusco, and in 2013, it is expected to extend services to Tarija, Salta, Arequipa and Asunción.
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