An Open Letter to PromPerú

by Captain Bill

Dear PromPerú,

I am a big fan of yours. You are doing a great job of promoting Perú as one of the top travel destinations. I have watched as you transformed the PromPerú web site into one of the top travel sites on the internet. The slogans, Perú, Live the Legend and Where Gods Become Mountains give me cold chills they are so cool. I love the composition of the photos, how they usually have a couple of tourists looking in awe or a group of journalists bristling with telephoto lenses and video cameras.

I particularly want to brag on the Perú, A True Paradise of Birds page. PromPerú, that link is absolutely brilliant. Who took the photo of the Royal Flycatcher with crest display? I am guessing Pepe Alvarez. With quite a few years in the field I have never seen the Royal Flycatcher with crest displayed.

PromPerú, you have helped Cusco and Machu Picchu become the top tourist attraction in the Southern Hemisphere, maybe in the New World. They truly deserve to be one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Lan Peru has flights from Lima to Cusco every hour. Hotel reservations have to be made months in advance.

PromPerú, I live and work in Iquitos. I am sure you know Cusco has as many tourists in one week as Iquitos has in one year. You know about Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises because you send me promotional emails every couple of weeks. You know about my friends and peers because I see their addresses Carbon Copied into the same promotional emails I receive.

We have some great Amazon Cruise companies and Amazon river boats operating out of Iquitos. PromPerú, you already know who they are.

Margarita Tours won the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler’s ecotour operator of the year award in 2003.

Jungle Expeditions has enjoyed great success, partially thanks to International Expeditions and who ever writes their sales copy, “The Greatest Voyage in Natural History”.

Greentracks have been operating cruises out of Iquitos since 1992 using various Amazon River boats over the years. Now they are renting the Arapima, possibly the best boat they have used so far. Have you seen their new newsletter? I recommend you subscribe to it.

Amazon Tours and Cruises have been running boats up and down these rivers for maybe 40 years. It has been reincarnated with a new owner and new company name. Sorry, I don’t know the details or the web site.

Aqua Expeditions is new and luxurious. They claim to be the first luxury expedition vessel ever to sail the Amazon and it’s tributaries. I can only imagine what Rotundo, the owner of Junglex has to say about that.

The Arca is owned by Adolfo E. Ignacio Morey and has been all over the Amazon. If boats could talk, the stories this one could tell.

The Spirit of the Amazon, Carlos Acosta’s beautiful new boat is eco-friendly, minimizing the carbon footprint.

And of course my miniature cruise ship Dawn on the Amazon III which I am very proud of.

PromPerú, you probably already know Dawn III was built in Loreto. You probably already know the unemplyment rate is 65% in Iquitos. I have built five boats and a Jungle Cabin here. Nearly all of the materials and labor came from this province. We had 15 people working directly on Dawn III to build it. Even the guards made more than minimum wage.

The impact on the economy of Iquitos was much greater than the number of my employees. For instance, a machine shop made two shafts and propellers. The machine shop employs half a dozen skilled workers. The motor, shaft, and propellers were installed by a different group of skilled laborers. A crew of welders worked on reinforcements, steps, hand holds, and many other parts of the boat. We rented a dry dock from a firm with several workers.

I bought all of the paint, varnish, tools, nuts, washers, bolts, nails, and other hardware in Peru, providing more jobs in those sectors of the economy. The wood came from Loreto, and had to be trucked, handled, planed, joined, sanded and shaped, providing employment for many people in the lumber business. I hired wood carvers and cabinet makers. I bought refrigerators, stoves, and freezers. Local ceramic artists made all of the plates, bowls, pitchers, cups and saucers. Marmelita hand made and embroidered all of the sheets, cloth napkins and organizers.

We purchase gas, oil, diesel fuel, insurance, food, pure water, and more. We bring tourists from outside the country who spend money on meals, hotel rooms, motocars, airline tickets, and souvenirs. We contribute to employment in nearly every sector of the economy. In short, Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises is very valuable to the economy of Iquitos, Loreto, and Peru.

Now I employ a permanent crew of 14 Iquiteños with health benefits, and 4 other part time workers from Iquitos.

The same, and more, can be said for all of the other companies and boats that I have listed above.

PromPerú, I appreciate that you are promoting the Amazon. I know you are bringing 5 journalist from the UK, to impress them with Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, Tamshiyacy Tahuayo Reserve, and Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve. I know they will be impressed with our great reserves no matter which cruise boat or cruise company you choose to send them with.

PromPerú, you asked the wrong questions. You did not ask if the boat or company was representative of Peru. You asked if 8 people could have private cabins. You did not ask if this was a great Peruvian boat, with a great Peruvian crew, ran by a great Peruvian company. You asked if 8 people could have private cabins?

That is how it came to be the UK journalists will cast off on December 3rd from Nauta in a boat built in Ecuador, registered in Ecuador, with a crew from Ecuador. You asked the wrong question. Jungle Discovery answered your question, “Yes we have private cabins for 5 journalists, one PromPerú representative, one representative from the travel company, and one representative from the regional government.” You asked the wrong question.

I would love to see you do something about this for myself and for my friends and peers in the other cruise companies that are working hard, trying to make a living in Iquitos Peru, on the edge of civilization. It is not that easy. We would appreciate all the help you can give us.

I know you must be kind of busy, but I would appreciate your consideration on this subject.

Thank you for listening,

Bill Grimes, President, Dawn on the Amazon E.I.R.L.

PS: I am sure I am a small fish compared with a lot of companies you deal with. It has occurred to me that you are the largest organization that I deal with that I have had so little personal contact with. I think it would be good for PromPerú, and all of the tour and cruise companies in Iquitos if you gave us quite a bit more personal attention. You could call once in a while to see how we are doing, instead of calling to see how many private cabins we have. You could get to know us better. You could learn which boats were built in Peru. Small gestures count.

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