Violent anti-mining protests in Cajamarca severely damaged the tourism industry in the highland city. However, as a result of intense promotion by local and national government, travelers are slowly returning to Cajamarca.
Luis Reyna of the Pro-tourism Project for Cajamarca told Andina news agency that the recuperation of the tourism industry is a long-term goal. “We had a frank descent in tourism, but it’s started to revert, and we’ve had an improvement of 35 or 40 percent, if we compare it to the fall, in tourism that we saw. This motivates us to keep working, and it commits us to ask the general population to support us,” he said to Andina. Reyna added that tourism may have fallen by up to 70 percent during the months of violence. According to Andina, the drop in tourism led to lost jobs, bankrupt travel businesses, and low rates of hotel occupation.
In recent years, Cajamarca has been the site of protests against the controversial Conga mining project, some of which turned violent and resulted in a number of deaths. The protesters oppose the Conga copper and gold mining project because of environmental concerns.
By working with private business and the Ministry of Exterior Commerce and Tourism (MINCETUR), Cajamarca has been able to effectively promote itself as a destination for travelers once again, reports Andina.
“We’re in a moment of evolution. We’re having positive trends, but it depends on other factors like the weather and peace, which we have and we’re maintaining, and that’s why we’re calling on the population and some leaders to make an effort to maintain the calm [in Cajamarca].”
Cajamarca was the site of the imprisonment and death of the last emperor of the Inca empire. Visitors to the city can see the famous “ransom room” (cuarto del rescate), which historical legend says that Atahualpa promised to fill with silver and gold for his Spanish captors if they released him. After recent anti-mining protests drove them away, tourists are finally returning to Cajamarca.