The Pacific Alliance (PA) is a regional integration initiative created in April 2011 by Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Its main objective is to become a platform for political articulation, and economic and trade integration, therefore showcasing its strengths to the world, with a special emphasis on the Asia and the Pacific region.

One of the subjects on which the Alliance has been actively working is tourism. In recent years, this sector has generated a significant economic impact on each of its member states. In the case of Peru, foreign exchange earnings from inbound tourism have increased from USD 732 million in 2011 to USD 1.022 million in 2013.

To further leverage these positive impacts, on May 7, 2013, the Tourism Working Group of the Pacific Alliance met for the first time with the objective to work on joint projects and actions aimed at sharing best practices and experiences, supporting the member states in multilateral relations, facilitating free flows of tourists and implementing joint marketing efforts.

In this sense, the member states have prioritized visa facilitation within the Alliance. A clear example was the elimination of tourist visas from Mexico and Peru, in 2012, which has contributed to a significant increase in Mexican tourists to Peru; from 46,005 in 2011 to 67,016 in 2014 (+ 46%).

Among other activities, in April of 2015 a Tourist Caravan of the Pacific Alliance has been organized in order to promote intra-regional inbound tourism. The caravans consist of capacity building programs for tour operators to raise awareness of each of the member states´ attractions. The caravans started in Chile, and will continue in Peru, Mexico and Colombia during April 2015.

The Tourism Working Group not only seeks to strengthen tourism flows within the Alliance, but also seeks to generate synergies among the private sector to attract travelers from other regions. Therefore, in May 2015 the II Macro Tourism event of the Pacific Alliance will take place in Mexico, with the purpose of identifying potential buyers from the Asian tourism market.

To showcase multi-destination trips within the Alliance, the Tourism Working Group has developed the “Tourism Alliance Pacific Booklet”, which features tourism information of the  four member states including Pacific Alliance routes, its attractions and the ease to travel within the alliance.

Similarly, new mechanisms are being developed to enhance tourism within the region. One example is a multilateral agreement, which will allow third-country permanent residents of the member states to travel freely (i.e. without visa) within the Pacific Alliance; the agreement is in its third stage of assessment and will be launched soon for implementation.

In addition, the Alliance has put great effort in sharing experiences and best practices in tourism between its member states – recognizing the importance of building the capacity of the private and public sector. In the upcoming months, the Tourism Working Group will focus on sharing experiences in key areas such as standardizing basic definitions in tourism, measuring the economic impact of tourism, and sharing information on tourism events in the region.

In sum, the Pacific Alliance has positioned itself as a strong economic integration tourism bloc that has shown the potential to facilitate travel within the region as well as promote the four members states as an attractive and competitive tourism multi-country destination.

The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015 is available here.

Author: Magali Silva, Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Peru

Image: Tourists walk at the Great Pyramid at the Cahuachi Ceremonial Centre in Nazca, Peru, September 13, 2014. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pard