ASUNCION – Residents and officials are calling for the restoration of the San Cosme and Damian dunes in the middle of the Parana River, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Paraguay.
Strong winds and storms have eroded the dunes, which are on the verge of disappearing.
The dunes formed in the 1980s, when construction of the Yacyreta dam by Paraguay and Argentina raised the river’s level, submerging the Parana’s wetlands and islands, National Tourism Secretariat official Rolando Barboza told EFE.
The nearly 7,000 residents of San Cosme and Damian, a town located on the banks of the Parana, have enjoyed an economic boom from tourism, which has dominated the local economy for nearly a decade, Barboza said.
Visitor numbers have climbed from about 3,000 in 2008 to 19,000 last year, a sixfold increase, Barboza said.
Last week, Entidad Binacional Yacyreta, the company that manages the dam, began studying ways to save the dunes.
The San Cosme and Damian dunes are especially popular among domestic tourists, who travel to the area to view the sand formations.
Domestic tourism has grown 25 percent in Paraguay over the past five years, generating revenues of nearly $100 million in 2014, the last year for which official figures are available.