Paraguay: the Heart of South America

Nature, culture and gastronomy are the key attractions of this emerging South American destination

Speaking to ITB Berlin News, Marcela Bacigalupo, Tourism Minister of the Republic of Paraguay, explained how she hopes to leverage ITB Berlin to make the country a betterknown tourist destination:

At ITB Berlin 2017, Paraguay hopes to attract the attention of the German public, presenting its new differentiating touristic routes, the Ruta de la Caña (Sugarcane Route) and the Ruta de la Yerba Mate (Mate Route), which show the authentic traditions of Paraguay, within a sustainable community development policy. Other routes like the multidestination routes of the Jesuitical missions, of the Chaco and Pantanal regions, birdwatching and adventure tourism will be presented as major axes of our tourism product. Another important focus is the promotion of our traditional gastronomy. During the five days of the fair, we will be offering a variety of typical dishes at our stand for you to sample.

How important is tourism as part of your economy and what are the projections?

The tourism sector in Paraguay has enormous potential and is currently one of the main drivers of the economy. Recent tourism income has shown a stable growth, triggering important investments in construction and the improvement of hotels, the diversification of gastronomy and other products that enhance the competitiveness of the sector. In 2015, money generated from incoming tourism increased from $283million to over $480million. This jump can be explained by the improvement of border controls and the positioning of Paraguay in the world, having hosted large events and promoting tourism at major fairs and though international media cooperation.

How are your source markets evolving, and who are you targeting for the future?

Within the European continent the major focus markets are Spain and Germany, as since the start of direct flights with Air Europe, tourism from both countries has risen. One of the pillars on which Paraguay is focusing is the development of the meeting industry, on which the National Secretariat of Tourism is working closely with the private sector.

What are the main USPs of Paraguay when it comes to tourism?

Paraguay offers tourists an authentic experience. Around main pillars such as nature, culture and gastronomy, as well as our shopping facilities, we hope that tourists fall for the authenticity of the country, making the visitors take home a portion of the Guaraní spirit, triggering the urge to come back. Paraguayans carry the pulse of hospitality – it’s for a reason that they call us the Heart of South America