The 15th Religious Tourism Meeting culminated on Friday, highlighting the importance of this product and the new development opportunities it represents for the province, the region and the country. During two consecutive days and through the different presentations, the different experiences and the global impact of this activity that manages to mobilize around 500 million people each year were made known.
According to what was expressed by speakers and participants, the instance was a contribution to the dialogue between religions, cultures, public bodies, business organizations and educational entities in an effort to agree on an agenda that manages to enhance the sustainable tourism offer and contributed, especially, to spread the riches of Catamarca as a potential tourist destination for future visitors.
After congratulating the organizers, the mayor of the Capital, Gustavo Saadi, stressed that “this kind of event is motivated by faith, spirituality, but at the same time it allows knowing what the historical monuments are in the place where they are held. I believe that the entire province meets these two conditions because we are a society of great devotion to our Virgen del Valle and now to our Blessed Fray Mamerto Esquiú, but we also have very important places such as the Basilica Cathedral, the San Francisco Convent declared a National Historic Monument or La Gruta, which is in the process of being remodeled, because the idea is to have one of the most important sanctuaries in Latin America. The challenge is that there are not only two dates when tourists visit us, but that they can do it all year round,” he stressed. .
For her part, the Secretary of Tourism and Economic Development of the Municipality of the Capital, Inés Galíndez, made a balance of the event, the first one organized directly by the commune, and highlighted that it met expectations.
“The intention was to strengthen the idea that religious tourism should take place all year round and that we have wonderful material to make it happen. There are possibilities that we can all learn and live from this,” he stressed.
“I want to think that this is a process that begins and that we are not strangers. All the residents of Catamarca must feel within this virtuous circle of product construction. We are surrounded by religious, tangible and intangible resources, it is a matter of starting to work on them “, he added.
Santiago Cano, Director of the “Mercosur Tourism Enterprises” Company (EMPRESUR) and organizer of the event for 15 years, was satisfied with what had been achieved. “Result of the joint effort that we have made from the EMPRESUR interdisciplinary team with the entire team of the municipal Tourism Secretariat after a year of work,” he said. “We had a common goal, which was to put Catamarca in the focus of religious tourism in Argentina and also abroad. And thanks to the virtual connection we have people from other countries who learned about the religious attractions, nature and gastronomy what this province has to offer.
Minutes before the end of the event, the organizers announced that the city of Luján, in the province of Buenos Aires, will host the next edition of the meeting.
At the end of the protocol closure, the participants of the event experienced a cultural proposal of “los misachicos”, putting on music, culture and a special color in the Plaza 25 de Mayo.n
More than 400 thousand people visited the city
According to data from the Secretariat of Tourism and Economic Development of the Municipality of the Capital, in the last year 430,060 people visited the city and the economic impact generated by tourism reached 3,569 million pesos. The figures were part of the data released in the presentation on Tourism Planning by Lic. Inés Galíndez, Secretary of Tourism and Economic Development, within the framework of the 15th Argentine Meeting of Religious Tourism that ended on Friday. Other data revealed by the official shows that 19,164 visitors were served at the tourist information offices, that there was a 15 percent increase in post-pandemic hotel capacity and that the average visitor stay in the city reaches two days and medium.
Galíndez delved into the axes of planning to achieve the successful development of tourism-oriented public policies, such as leadership, thinking about infrastructure and services, tourism promotion, a host community and being able to measure results.
“You must have a strategic vision, a perspective look, because you cannot do tourism from a desk. You have to go out, look from a distance, in perspective; you have to tour the city, go out through the neighborhoods, see what is missing and see what is needed,” he stressed.
“There is also a need for a cross-sectional view and not only look at the direct actors in tourism, such as transport or hotels…, there are others such as businesses, fairgrounds, builders, the real estate business, the rural part, food and all the community, in the context of all the actors of the economic system impacted by tourism,” he added.
The secretary elaborated on the advances regarding the investment made, the territorial alliances, such as the union with the municipalities of the Central Valley and the agreement between the 6 capitals of northern Argentina “of different political signs,” she stressed. Likewise, he highlighted the ordering achieved in key points of the city such as La Gruta and the enhancement of attractions such as the Pueblo Perdido de la Quebrada, which has already received the visit of 4,788 people so far in the administration, as well as the Casa de la Puna and the El Jumeal Dam Ecopark, soon to be inaugurated.
Galíndez also reported that some 308 people did ecotours through hiking, work was done on a stable and integrating cultural proposal in the Casa de la Puna, which has already achieved the visit of some 7,500 people, and that progress was made in recreational proposals for tourists, such as the excursions exceeding the 190 organized by travel agencies and 121 excursions made through the municipal tourist bus.
Finally, he highlighted the decision to unite the public and private sectors, fundamentally from the work of the travel agencies that managed to regularize the Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies of Catamarca, the creation of a wholesale agency in the province and the consolidation of programs with educational entities such as the UNCa and the Fasta and Chavarría institutes. n
Actions to highlight the figure of Esquiú
Lic. Blanca Peralta, head of Quality and Tourism Products of the Municipality of Córdoba, spoke at the congress and assured that they will work together with the municipality of the capital of Catamarca in order to coordinate tourism policies aimed at highlighting the figure of Fray Mamerto Esquiú .
In this regard, he pointed out that “the beatification has been excellent news because the friar belonged to one of the orders – the Franciscan – that we love the most, since they were the owners of an unparalleled testimonial heritage.” Likewise, he highlighted the importance of the blessed for the Cordoba community after recalling that he was Bishop of Cordoba and his remains were buried in the Basilica Cathedral of this city.