The Mayor reported that in the last year they registered a rebound, but that it is still not enough.
Rurrenabaque, “The tourist pearl of Beni”. The streets once full of young people in search of adventure are now empty. Bars and clubs barely accommodate three or four people, like the pensions installed on the banks of the Beni River. Hotels that were once full days in advance now always have rooms available.
“Last September I asked the Assembly for a declaration of support for the tourism issue, since the visit by Israelis decreased, but nothing happens,” claims the departmental assemblyman of the Ballivián province, Fernando Roca.
Given the drop in visitors, the municipality of Rurrenabaque is looking for new promotion strategies that save tourism, an activity that generates the region’s main income. The mayor, Anacleto Dávalos, said that promotion is the main task.
“We are looking for new strategies; we have promoted and relaunched the tourist destination Rurrenabaque-Madidi-Pampas to show the natural wealth that we have throughout Bolivia,” says the burgomaster.
He added that with these new measures, 2016 closed with hopeful figures. “They are coming, we have had about 18,000 visitors,” warned the Mayor.
But he maintains that this figure is still below the 22,000 received before the 2014 debacle, when the visa application for Israelis was approved. Until then, this group represented 70% of tourists. That is, 15,400 visitors, of whom only 3,000 arrived in 2015.
In the evenings, several sandwich stalls are set up in the town’s main square to taste as you go, and a group of traditional music animates the evening. Diners and spectators are just the locals.
Municipality regulated the agencies offer
The mayor of Rurrenabaque reported that another of the measures taken was to regulate the offers of local tourist agencies. He stated that many of them were auctioning off their packages to get travelers.
“We have worked with a municipal law and regulations for the regulation of agencies. This because tourism was being auctioned off at minimum prices,” said Davalos.
The norm establishes a standard price list that must be respected. Locals claim that despite Israeli tourists always haggling over prices, the minimum supply began to become common with the drop in visitors.
Although the population blames the fall in activity on the decisions of the central government, the mayor assures that the work coordinated with the central body will be the key to recovery. The authority argued that the problem occurred due to a lack of dialogue with the previous authorities.
“The influx of tourists fell from the application for visas (which was imposed by the State). In addition, there was no coordination of the central government authorities. Now there is better coordination because we are on the same line and when there is coordination, we work and the town is promoted, ”he declared.
Given the concern of various sectors, the previous Monday, the governor of Beni, Álex Ferrier, of the government party, said that there is an important advance in the efforts to achieve an entry of Israeli tourists to the country without red tape. He stated that the mechanisms are being analyzed with the corresponding instances. “President Evo himself expressed his concern and willingness to help,” he said.