Fountain Hills hosts visitors from El Salvador - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Fountain Hills hosts visitors from El Salvador

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Posted: Monday, January 15, 2007 1:52 am | Updated: 7:18 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Every resident of Fountain Hills will be an ambassador this coming week. The town is welcoming its most prominent guest from a foreign government: Ruben Rochi, El Salvador’s minister of tourism.

Rochi and two other officials from that Central American nation are coming for a twoday visit, starting Tuesday.

Fountain Hills is considering an exchange of education, culture and trade with El Salvador.

The most prominent tie would give the town a third Sister City, but its first in the Western Hemisphere.

“We’re really excited to have somebody of this caliber coming in to see us,” said Frank Ferrara, president of the Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce.

The delegation also is visiting Prescott, which already has a Sister City relationship with a Salvadoran town.

Rochi’s Arizona adventure actually begins today, when he flies in and meets with Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon.

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Salvadoran delegation will be greeted at Fountain Hills Town Hall for a reception, featuring an exchange of flags.

Then there will be an 11:30 a.m. luncheon at the Fountain Hills Community Center.

That night, Rochi, a senior adviser for trade and commerce, and the Salvadoran consul general for Arizona will be in Prescott to meet with city officials there.

On Wednesday, the three Salvadorans return to Fountain Hills, where local companies wait to talk with them about business opportunities.

Rochi has proven his willingness to travel long distances and go to great lengths to promote tourism, which brings to El Salvador about 1.1 million visitors annually.

Last year, he visited Japan, talking up his nation’s infrastructure of transportation, telecommunications and energy, and boasting of El Salvador International Airport as the largest, most secure and most modern in Central America.

Recently, Rochi was quoted as approving efforts to create tourism from the legacy of El Salvador’s 12-year civil war, which killed 75,000 before ending in 1992.

This March, a small contingent of Fountain Hills officials is expected to visit El Salvador. The decision whether to adopt a town would come after that trip.

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