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A rousing welcome in Cusco, Peru

This fountain honors an Incan king in a city square of Cusco near our meeting site

I’m in Peru with Tourism Cares for a restoration project at Cusco’s Mercado Central de San Pedro park, where we’ll be removing grafitti, painting its walls and planting flowers in old flower beds long filled with trash. We’re also visiting Machu Picchu, one of the world’s most treasured archaeological sites that rests some 8,000 feet above sea level in this country’s Andes Mountains.

This raucous welcome with costumed dancers was given to our group on Friday, May 4, prior to a day-long tourism summit with local officials, professors and dignitaries. Peru ranks very highly with affluent travelers in the United States and sends the second most visitors here after neighboring Chile.

Tourism Cares CEO Bruce Beckham brought a blue chip panel with him and asked USTOA President Terry Dale to moderate a discussion of how this country can continue to grow its American travel business. Industry leaders here are into serious long-range planning to deal with the sustainability issues that arise with an ancient site that draws so much visitation like Machu Picchu does. Several local professionals including Rogers Valencia Espinoza of Andean Lodges and Ruth Shady, an archaeologist who helped to discover Caral, the oldest city in the Americas, led a discussion of those plans and gained input from the American tour operators in attendance.

Costumed dancers entertained us as we entered the Cusco Convention Center


A band played for our delegation as we prepared for our day long meeting with local leaders in Cusco


The primary theme of Peruvian industry leaders today is sustainability of their sacred sites like Machu Picchu

Mac Lacy

Mac Lacy is president and publisher of The Group Travel Leader Inc. Mac has been traveling and writing professionally ever since a two-month backpacking trip through Europe upon his graduation with a journalism degree from the University of Evansville in 1978.