Monday, August 17, 2015

Peru This Week: Peru - A Hub for Conferences?

"Peru: A Hub for Conferences?"
W. Alejandro Sanchez
August 17, 2015
Peru This Week

The Peruvian government is constructing a brand new convention center in San Borja, one of Lima’s posh neighborhoods. The goal is to have the center ready in time for the 2015 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, which will take place in Lima in October. But while it is important that Peru is hosting such important global gatherings, it would be even more welcome-news if such meetings occurred more often in cities other than the capital.

The Lima Centro de Convenciones (LCC)is a grandiose project that is currently in construction. According to the Peruvian government, it will cover an area of some 10,000 square kilometers. It will have 18 conference rooms (some of which can be subdivided, bringing the total to 22), and the biggest one will hold up to 5,000 people. Overall the complex will be able to accommodate up to 10,000 guests. The LCC is strategically located for easy access and a nice view, as it is close to two major highways (Javier Prado Ave. and Aviación Ave.) and next to the National Library and the Museo de la Nación (Museum of the Nation). The Peruvian government is sparing no expenses on this project, as the LCC’s price tag is around 530 million Nuevos Soles (roughly $166 million USD).

According to José Díaz, director of the “Nuestras Ciudades” program (“Our Cities;” part of the Ministry of Housing), the construction is on schedule and it should be completed by the end of August. Nevertheless, not everyone is happy with this major project, as people who live in San Borja have complained of the incessant noise due to the construction.

Noise pollution aside, a brand new convention center will help Peru become a go-to location for other major events. Of course, Peru has already made a name for itself in this area since it regularly hosts major gatherings. For example, in 2008 Lima hosted a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. More recently, in December 2014 I wrote about the importance of the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP 20/CMP 10), a major summit on climate change that was also held in Lima.

Very important gatherings have taken place in the capital, but other cities should also have the opportunity to host them. Thankfully, this is already occurring to a certain extent. Just this past July, President Ollanta Humala met with his counterparts from Colombia, Chile and Mexico – the members of the Pacific Alliance –in Paracas, south of Lima. The agreement signed at this gathering is called “The Declaration of Paracas,” which has a nice ring to it for people who know Paracas as a tourist destination and also due to its pre-Inca culture of the same name. As for upcoming meetings outside of the capital, the southern city of Arequipa will organize an international mining convention, Perumin32, this September.

Last September, while inspecting ongoing construction, Housing Minister Milton Von Hesse declared that thanks to the LCC, “Lima will finally have a convention center of an international scale.” This will turn the Peruvian capital into one of the best hub centers for events and conventions in Latin America. Lima becoming a global center for conventions is a positive and noble goal; however, other Peruvian cities should also be actively utilized. For example, Chimbote has a fairly modern convention center (the Centro de Convenciones – ULADECH Católica) that should also be utilized for major events, like ministerial meetings or multinational investment gatherings.

The Peruvian government needs to continue decentralizing the many meetings and summits it will host. Having one grandiose conference center in the capital, namely the LLC, makes sense for gatherings like the IMF, World Bank, or the 2016 APEC summit. However, the Andean nation’s other major cities should not be forgotten, but rather actively utilized as conference hubs. The ultimate goal should be that Peru as a whole should be Latin America’s conference hub, not just the capital.

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