Where else besides Machu Picchu should Peru enlist the help of stars like Susan Sarandon?

Where else besides Machu Picchu should Peru enlist the help of stars like Susan Sarandon?

Susan Sarandon added a big dose of Hollywood sparkle last week to the reopening ceremony of Peru’s crown jewel, Machu Picchu. Peru would be well served to apply such Tinsel Town treatment to its other historic attractions.

Against the iconic backdrop of Inca Pachacuti’s 15th century citadel, the Academy Award winning actress posed with Andean children in traditional dress. The Huayna Picchu peek loomed in the distance. The photo-op was a unmitigated success, announcing to the world that Peru’s most popular tourist attraction was again open for business, two months after torrential rains and landslides wiped out train access to the mountaintop shrine.

A battalion of reporters and paparazzi managed to stay mostly on message, asking Sarandon repeatedly what she thought of Machu Picchu — as opposed to probing personal questions about her recent separation from Tim Robbins.

“I had no idea there were so many journalists at Machu Picchu,” joked Sarandon, who was flanked by a U.S. Embassy bodyguard and Peruvian Tourism Minister Martín Pérez. “Oh, (this is) just for me? I though it was like this all the time. So I guess that means maybe I’ll have to see Machu Picchu when you all go and then I’ll have a better idea of what it’s like.”

Inviting Sarandon was a brilliant how-to in “top-down promotion” for Peru’s tourism industry, wrote newspaper columnist Juan Paredes Castro in Sunday’s El Comercio. He posed the question: “How many Susan Sarandons does Peru need?”

Paredes wasn’t talking about recruiting more movie stars to sell Machu Picchu as one of the seven wonders of the world. If anything the mountain-ringed Inca sanctuary has been oversold to the point of peril.

He was referring to the larger, and ever-nagging question: When are Peru’s central, regional and local governments going to invest in preserving and promoting the scores of lesser known, but nonetheless equally important, archaeological monuments as sustainable tourist destinations?

When will road and air routes to Kuelap, Choquequirao, Chavin de Huantar, Pativilca, Vilcashuaman and Caral — just to name a few — be established to offer suitable alternatives to take some of the pressure off the beleaguered Machu Picchu?

Click here to read the full article in the Peruvian Times!

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Authored by: Rick Vecchio

Rick Vecchio, Fertur’s director of development and marketing, was educated at the New School for Social Research and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He worked for Pacifica Radio WBAI and as a daily reporter for newspapers in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. Then in 1996, he decided it was time to realize a life-long dream of traveling to Peru. He never went back. While serving as Peru country manager for the South American Explorers from 1997-1999, he fell in love with Fertur's founder, Siduith Ferrer, and they married. Over the next six years, he worked as a correspondent for The Associated Press. Meanwhile, Siduith built the business, which he joined in January 2007. Now he designs custom educational and adventure tour packages for corporate and institutional clients, oversees Fertur’s Internet platform and occasionally leads special trips, always with an eye open for a good story to write about.

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