Sometimes it takes a foreigner's fresh eyes to see and describe a country's brand assets. Xabier Diaz de Cerio - originally from Basque Country in Spain - through his work as journalist and editor, and now via his creative design agency, is an expert in explaining and illustrating what makes Peru special: its products, landscapes and people.
During my Peru visit, we met at his office (which is very cool and feels like a forest) for a vivid exchange of ideas and projects. In this follow up interview, Xabier shares his views on Peru, its branding, and country-of-origin strengths.
Xabier, Peru has become quite well known internationally as a destination for foodies and nature/adventure lovers. Do you remember your own perceptions of the country before you moved here from the Basque Country, Spain?
When I arrived in Peru twenty years ago, its promotional slogan was "the country of the Incas" and the tourist offer was basically focused on one destination: Machu Picchu. Then Peru celebrated the arrival of a million tourist as a great achievement, and gastronomy was only a source of pride in the family. Hardly any talk of specialized tourism and the few tourists who came to have nature experiences were seen as adventurers in the style of Indiana Jones, or National Geographic scientists.
How have your views changed since then?
Promperú has done an excellent job establishing a strategy to successfully place the country in different rankings. Peru stopped having an offer only focused on Machu Picchu to becoming a multi-destination country, with proposals for each traveler. Peru is one of the 17 countries with the most biodiversity in the world and has developed an offer of nature, gastronomy and culture around a very special territory.
One of the things that have changed the most in the last twenty years is that Peruvians have reinforced their identity through elements that were not previously a source of pride. Now they recognize them as their own ... and this is an important step in building an image of the country.
Over the last years you have been involved in the branding of several Peruvian products of national significance. Briefly can you tell us which those where?
The country brand has been fundamental for organizing a set of ideas, values and experiences about Peru that the rest of the world should know about. It has marked a very interesting path and is the umbrella to develop a very ambitious strategy.
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