Today is Valentine’s Day. And what better way to celebrate than with a day (or two!) off from work. Well, it would be great if I worked in the government (private sector does not get the days off), but that’s not the case. Now, you must be wondering why Peru has declared this day (and yesterday) a public holiday? No, it’s not because Peruvians want to celebrate love and romance, but rather, they want to promote domestic tourism within the country! It is estimated that each long weekend generates $100 million in domestic tourism revenue.
Update: The Peruvian Tourism Ministry has announced that revenue generated from this 4 day weekend was US$ 257 million. 97% of tourists were Peruvians and 3% were foreigners. (2/23/12)
As you may have noticed via the recent posts, there are a lot of things going on Peru in February: First, it is summer, so kids and schools are still on vacation. This means people are at the beaches across the country and visiting other places like Caral and Machu Picchu. But essentially, providing people with a 4 day weekend will give them the opportunity to also travel to places farther away such as Kuelap fortress and Puno – where they can experience Lake Titicaca and the marvelous carnival-like atmosphere and festivities going on now (through the 18th of February) for the the Festival de la Virgen de la Candelaria. During this time, Puno becomes the Folk Capital of the Americas with more than 200 groups of musicians and dancers participating in the celebrations honoring the Virigin Mary/Mamacha; the celebration continues as a prelude to Carnival.
While the thought and idea behind the declaration of this new holiday had sincere intentions, the global media seemed to be more smitten with the idea that Peru announced the holiday’s for Valentine’s Day, and not for Carnival and tourism. The fact that 2012’s Carnival dates are actually one week later was never clarified or discussed; I like to think that maybe someone in the government actually had a “heart” and/or was trying to profess their love in one of the grandest gestures. But really, it is probably just to set the precedent for Carnival’s year-to-year changing dates. I like my idea better.
In the mean time, for those of us not lucky enough to have the day off today (or a Valentine), I suppose we will just have to get through the day. Those that do have a special someone, but are working, will most likely head over to the Parque del Amor after work. The park is located on the cliffs of Miraflores overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It’s surrounded by walls of romantic quotes, which are scripted in mosaic tiles and a monumental statue (“El Beso”, the kiss) of two lovers embracing each other in the center of the park. The sculpture celebrates the lovers who gather to catch the sunset on the waters of the Pacific Ocean. It is said that the locals compete for the longest kiss under this statue. Sounds like a competition I can certainly get into! I can only imagine how busy this spot will be tonight.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers out there.